Are we heading for another deadlock in the dzongkhag thromde quagmire? It seems so going by what is unfolding in Paro.
The Parliament already endorsed the Paro dzongkhag thromde boundary. People’s representatives from the dzongkhag presented their case before votes were cast. The Election Commission of Bhutan, based on the Parliament’s approval, issued the final delimitation order.
But now, all that seems not final. Local leaders and “prominent residents” are objecting. There is a petition waiting at the Speaker’s desk. A proposal to reconsider the boundary now seems eminent as local leaders have decided to do it through the tshogde or their member of Parliament.
The core issue is the loss of paddy land in fertile Paro valley. This is a strong reason. Paro valley is known for its lush green paddy fields. It is the first valley that tourists or foreigners notice as they land in the valley. It has all the reasons to awe visitors. Besides, we have a strong policy to protect wetland. If land is increasing being left fallow in some quarters of the country, those in use should be protected.
The flatland of Paro is the envy of many outside the dzongkhag. Much of it is still utilised for paddy, vegetables and winter crops although we see new structures popping up every year. If farmers want to be farmers and not urbanities, their interest should be looked into.
They are also many of the successful farmers with some venturing into business- construction, resort and many more. Some villages that would come under the thromde are better off than other proposed thromdes. What more would a thromde bring besides losing some rural incentives?
From what representatives (from effected gewogs) claim, decisions were made short of proper consultations. This gives people room to negotiate, as they know inclusive decision-making was missing. If they were not consulted, they would feel cheated.
A proper study to not derail the thromde election is what is called for. A best solution can be found if the issue is not politicised or a populist decision is avoided. More importantly, it will set precedence. The government will be overwhelmed with petitions if they give into pressures. Parliamentary decisions will lose weight if it can be overturned.
The simplest of issues could be politicised because of a few interest groups. This includes at the local government level. Those representing the people will have to learn to say no if they feel it is wrong. They were elected not to do them favours. It is easy to make the Parliament the scapegoat and escape the disapproval of the voters.
The government should be firm on rules or decisions passed. If the government felt it was wrong, it should have stopped when the Parliament discussed it. Opposition parties all over the world pick up on government mistakes. This will give them mileage.
It is not clear if the Parliament will discus it again. Should they bring it back, valid arguments must prevail.