Unlike the exiting towns, Bumthang valley development includes abundant green spaces and recreation areas

Development: With local area plan (LAP) for Jalikhar approved by its landowners yesterday, residents of Bumthang can now look forward to availing construction approvals for permanent structures, which remains frozen today.

Through a public consultation meeting with the department of human settlement (DHS), the LAP for the last segment of Bumthang valley development, spanning over 215 acres, is now completed.

Dzongkhag engineer, Yeshey Dorji said the LAPs for Dekiling and Chamkhar were already completed in February this year. The LAP for Jalikhar extends from Chamkharchhu Bridge to a stream next to hotel Jakar view. Areas beyond hotel Jakar view are designated for future development zone.

DHS’s senior urban planner, Tshering Dorji said the LAP of Jalikhar would be now forwarded to national land commission (NLC) for further verification to resolve area and plot size discrepancies. Once the NLC approves it, DHS and NLC would jointly conduct the demarcation.

“Following the demarcation, the LAP will be handed over to the local government, which will start implementing the developmental plans,” Tshering Dorji said, adding LAPs for Chamkhar and Dekiling are already with the NLC.

The landowners have to poll 28 percent of their landholdings for construction of public amenities such as roads, footpath, walkways and power supplies.

“The plots would also be given within the radius of 30 metres from the landowners’ previous land demarcation as per the rules,” Tshering Dorji said.

The plot size requirement for construction of houses is 13 decimal. For those who own plots smaller than 13 decimals, government would top up to make it 13 decimals. “These landowners would have to pay to the government for the additional land,” he said.

Of the total 360 plots, 39 plot owners own less than 13 decimal. However, only half of the 39 plots would need to be topped up since the rest will be turned into a historic village for tourist attraction.

“Cultural, historical and spiritual sites are also protected in the villages,” DHS’s architect-planner, Tshering Denka said.

She, however, cautioned that no constructions would be entertained in hazard zone such as flood risk and on steep slope areas. Only two-storied buildings would be allowed in the main development area and three-storied is the maximum ceiling for commercial space.

A landowner, Sonam Tobgye asked if developments could happen on the red zone, especially the areas by the riverbanks.

“Government could allow constructions by the riverbanks with reinforcement of river bank protection walls because everyone has a considerable chunk of land here,” he said.

Tshering Dorji said the ministry is working on how to best compensate landowners whose lands are caught in hazard zone and steep areas.

“It will be ensured that landowners from these areas at least gain something from the town plan,” Tshering Dorji said.

According to DHS, existing concrete structures will also be protected. With government stricken by budget constraints, removal of structures both semi-permanent and permanent are avoided as far as possible.

Meanwhile, unlike the existing towns, Bumthang valley development has been incorporated with abundant open green spaces, green corridors, cycle tracks, recreation areas, walkways and stream buffers with plantations.

While construction of permanent structures would be allowed only when basic amenities are in place, town plan works such as the construction of Dekiling-Chamkhar bypass road begins today.

By Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang