The Thimphu Structure Plan has clearly outlined residential areas where apart from some small shops, not much commercial activity is allowed.
However, the Thimphu Thromde, since 2016, decided to allow a great degree and level of commercial activity in these areas- including buildings hotels and service apartments for tourists, by amending the rules.
The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement says this is not allowed and has taken up the matter with the OAG.
Whatever, the legal outcome, the Thimphu Thromde is wrong to allow the blatant commercialization of residential areas in Thimphu.
This is already having a major impact on land prices, tenants being kicked out by landlords and more congestion.
Thimphu Thromde’s caving into the wishes of a few business people and landlords means that it may not only have broken laws, but it has also let the residents of Thimphu down.
With commercial considerations overtaking the living space and urban planning, we are headed the Jaigaon way of haphazard urban development now.
However, there are questions to be asked of other agencies too.
The MoWHS as the main agency must be questioned for letting this happen for years and doing nothing to stop it. It is difficult to believe that MoWHS officials working and living in Thimphu did not note the massive changes taking place in Thimphu.
The Ministry of Finance must be questioned for not being able to see the havoc that its Fiscal Incentives is causing. A lot of these hotels came up due to the tax breaks but now there are too many of them.
Similarly, the Tourism Council of Bhutan does not have a data base to advice people not to build more in a saturated market.
Financial institutions must also be held to account for providing massive loans that funded all this construction with the result that many new hotels are finding it difficult to repay bank loans.
Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.