Trowa Theater

Trowa Theatre in Changjiji sits on government land. The land, measuring 19,432.56 square feet, was leased to a businessman in 2001 to build an entertainment center.

In 2006, the government approved the transfer of the lease to another businessman. And increased lease rent from Nu 2 per sft per annum to Nu 42 per sft per annum, which was the amount being charged to other lessees occupying similar property in Thimphu.

The businessman taking over the lease did not sign a lease agreement protesting that the new lease rent was too high. He still has not signed a lease agreement with the government. Nor has he paid lease rent since 2006. The total outstanding lease rent as of last month is about Nu 5.24 million.

The Parliament discussed this case in its 5th and 7th sessions, in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and, on both occasions, decided that the government should resolve the issue in accordance with the laws of the land.

Last Thursday, during the Public Accounts Committee’s report to the National Assembly, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, the minister for works and human settlement, reported that his ministry was unable to resolve the issue, and that, as such, he had requested the Land Commission to sell the land to the lessee.

The government should answer how a businessman is allowed to run a business on government land, without signing a lease agreement, without paying lease rent, and for so long while violating laws and ignoring regulations. And the government should resolve the issue, even if the case must be forwarded to the court of law, as was recommended by the Public Accounts Committee.

That’s what the government should do. But what the government actually did do, instead, was to send a formal request to the Land Commission to sell the land to the businessman.

What was Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba thinking?

There are many other businesses, in Thimphu and in other parts of our country, which have also leased government land. Wouldn’t selling leased government land to one businessman open the floodgates for other businesses to also buy land that they have leased from the government?

And what about the rule of law? Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba must know that the laws of the land prevent leased government land from being sold. He must know that Section 307 of the Land Act states that:

Under no circumstances shall a land on lease from the Government land or Government Reserved Forests land be converted to ownership right.

Trowa Theatre sits on prime government land. That land belongs to the people of Bhutan. And the people of Bhutan would want to know that their government is protecting their land, not squandering it recklessly.


 This opinion piece is from the opposition leader’s blog

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  1. Govt should have the right to sell properties after the approval from the national assembly and national council. NA and NC members are elected by the people, and for the people. This will bring progress in many forms. 
    On the check and balance system for managing power of govt, Property of the govt should be sold though auction, and not sell directly to a person. The auction should be held in all the dzongkhags, and a bidder with  the highest bid price will avail the property. Minister yeshy Zimbabwe has  no right to sell the common propert of people of Bhutan as he wishes. 
    Similarly, kidu power should be transferred to the parliament and the  council but there should be a system of. Heck and. Intelligent put in place for transperancy and accountability.
    If this power of kidu existed before, the poor folks living on govt land in Thimphu may not have been kicked out, while people who received kidu kept receiving kidu and continue to receive kidu.

  2. Tenzing lamsang,

    I think you better ask Lyonpo KD how the land was leased to a business man in 2006 as he was the MOWHS Minister at that time and while you are at it, please also ask him why he allotted government land to Damchen Petroleum Limited too to build their gas station in Thimphu. I am sure your investigative journalism skills will help and given your penchant for digging up stories from the past, this should be right up your street. Otherwise your newspaper runs the risk of being a biased paper running stories that only somehow discredits the government.

    • Please don’t compare 2006 with 2012. 2006 was approval for lease. 2012 is proposal for sale. See the difference?

      2006 was under monarchy. 2012 is under democracy (which is supposed to be better, isn’t that what we’re told?). Why is jimba saying he has ‘not been able to solve it’ when the natural course is to send the trowa theatre owner to court for non-payment of dues? 

      the 2012 issue is many shades worse and very worrisome.

  3. I think it is very stupid of government decision to sell government land to private individual. As one of the author pointed out it would set new examples to other individual like Kelki.
    It is government fault and weakness that they are unable to get the lease payment from the particular individual. If it were some ordinary people, I am sure that the case would have been sent to court or their assets seized.
    It clearly reflects the weakness of the government part.

  4. In regard to the Trowa case,  the RGOB needs a kick up their back side for proposing such a ridiculous solution. Instead of punishing the person for not paying his lease rentals, they want to reward him for it. Sometimes, I wonder how smart people like Lyonpo Zimba get such weird ideas and then expect people to agree with his proposals.

    The only solution is for the RGOB is to collect the rentals due from the businessman concerned and if he refuses to pay up, send him to the courts and then to jail for all I care.

  5. This land acquired from the one of Wang Yshochen Gyed of Thimphu must be reinstituted to the rightful owner instead of proposing to sell it Business tycoon like Trowa Theatre owner. Is this the essence of equity & justice. Let us now not books by its covers.

    • i go with you Tshangpa.

    • very good point! If the govt wants to sell it off, then why not sell it off to the original owner and AT the original rate that they stole it at. I believe they paid the owners only nu.26/sft even though the market rate those days was already more than 100/sft. Then he can sell it to the Riverview tycoon at the going market rate of 1000/sft. Actually he can charge more because the building is already on it and the riverview fellow can’t go anywhere else!

      It’s nice to see crooks getting crooked once in a while!

  6. I forget, when did this fellow start building Trowa theatre? And when did the lease get raised? 

  7. DPT Minister is trying to selll to DPT supporter at a cheaper rate. Better evaluate the value of both lan and Property and have a open auction

  8. I don why DPT is always after Land graphing.As per the new Land act bill , Cabinet Ministry will have power to give resettlement  land.If they are given power,i grantee 100% that there will be many land  problem that are happening now(Gyelposing,trowa land …)  

  9. Who allotted the land to damchen at Kharbandi? The road was widened by Tala Project with the loan cum grant money. The profit is enjoyed by fuel dealer. Is it Jangchuk glaythsen the thrompon of Phuntsholing or Phuntsho Wangdi the then Director of roads? Can you find out from the MoWHS Secretary who should have this information at his fingertips. He is very efficient and can deliver this information within minutes. My views.

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