Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse

Three years on, shopkeepers in Autsho town, Lhuentse are waiting for the plots at the new town to begin construction. 

Of more than 50 shopkeepers in the town, some operate from makeshift huts in their plots nearby. Others have rented private land to construct shops after they were asked to dismantle their temporary shelters and vacate the state land.

“We’re initially promised plots within a year when we’re asked to dismantle our huts on the state land. But it’s been three years and we have been renting private land,” a shopkeeper, Sonam Wangda, said. He said that they could save begin construction instead of paying rents. 

Shopkeepers said that since they were on rented plots, they could not build proper houses and their roofs leak during monsoon. There is also drinking water shortage. 

Lhuentse dzongdag, Jambay Wangchuk, said the allotment criteria had been worked out and the dzongkhag submitted it to the National Land Commission. The dzongkhag is currently waiting for approval.

“The delay may be due to Covid-19 pandemic situation. We’re ready to allocate the plots to the individuals once the approval comes,” he said. 

Following the directives from the National Land Commission (NLC), Lhuentse dzongkhag developed the plot allotment criteria twice. The first allotment criteria were submitted in October 2018 and then sent again in July last year after a review. 

There are around 40 plots on state land and about 14 in the private area have been demarcated and developed. Each plot is approximately 10 decimals. 

As preparation, dzongkhag has widened the highway and connected the area with access roads. Those affected by the town development were compensated. 

Meanwhile, some residents who have purchased private land in the core town area and outside complain of gewog restricting the land transaction. 

There are at least 20 who have purchased the private land in the town area. Some bought it around six years ago. 

“The gewog doesn’t allow the transaction even if the concerned parties are willing,” a shopkeeper said.

Tsaenkhar gup, Tsheten Wangdi, said the transaction had been frozen due to LAP development. 

“The map is ready now and they can process once the plots are allotted,” he said. 

He said that those who bought wetland in the area that has been declared green zone under the township could also transact then.

Spread on the flat stretches along the Kurichhu bank, around 36km away from Mongar towards Lhuentse, Autsho is the gateway to the dzongkhag. 

It is a business hub for Tsaenkhar, Jarey and shopkeepers from other gewogs of Lhuentse, besides villages from Mongar’s adjoining gewogs Tsamang and Tsakaling.