After more than two decades, the face of Sunkosh town in Dagana is changing. Its worn-out temporary structures are being fast replaced with permanent buildings.

Residents are happy and working tirelessly to complete their constructions on time. However, from one edge of the town, Devi Charan Upreti, 69 witnesses the uprising of buildings with sorrow.

When other 15 plot owners in Sunkosh town complete their buildings and move in, Devi Charan will be homeless. He was among the 16 residents who received order from the dzongkhag administration to dismantle the temporary structures built on state land.

While 15 of the occupants received plots in the town, Devi Charan did not because his tharm (land ownership certificate), which is in his wife’s name could not be registered. He said, he bought the land, built a temporary structure and migrated from Tsirang in 1985.

Devi Charan said that he received orders to dismantle the house but no plot has been allotted to him in the town. “This house built on a five decimal land is the only property I’ve. If I dismantle this I’ve nowhere to go,” he said.

The issue of him being landless and homeless was put up to the gewog administration and forwarded to the dzongkhag administration. After verification, documents have been recently submitted to the National Land Commission (NLC). “I’ve requested for a replacement land or consideration to be part of the town plan,” he said.

Tshangkha gewog administration verified and after finding Devi Charan had no landholdings in other parts of the country forwarded his plea to the dzongkhag and then to NLC, Tshangkha gup Tawla said.

Meanwhile, the town plan is progressing well. Several plot owners have started construction and few are gathering materials such as sand, boulders and bricks. Being a rural town, plot owners can construct two storied houses. They have a plot size of 1,167 square feet each.

One of the plot owners, Rinzin Wangchuk, 69, expects to complete his building by the end of this year.  But he is worried about accommodating a septic tank in the allotted plot.  He said, the plot size is already too small and keeping space for septic tank will shrink the area.

Plot owners have recently written to the gewog and dzongkhag administrations to approve constructing septic tank outside their allotted plots.

However Gup Tawla said they have been already asked to vacant the illegal occupancy on state land and allowing them to construct on the state land can’t be considered. “The land Act does not allow this,” he said.

Meanwhile, following numerous requests from few plot owners who continue to occupy the temporary structures on state land, the dzongkhag administration has extended the occupancy deadline until October this year.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang