Nima Wangdi

Almost two decades after Chamkhar town relocation plan, little has happened. In fact, the number of shops has increased and more permanent structures have come up.

The dzongkhag administration issued a reminder early this year about the expiry of their lease agreement. The lease agreement expires by September 2023 and the business people are expected to move to the three local area plans (LAP) in Bumthang.

The LAPs are Jalikhar, Chamkhar, and Dekiling.

Businesses say that relocation would not be a problem for shopkeepers but LAPs should be fully ready with all the amenities.

“We want the dzongkhag to consider extending the lease agreement until the LAPs are ready,” a shopkeeper said.

Sangay Phuntsho, another shopkeeper, said, “We will happily leave if we are given an identified place with all the basic amenities.”

A businessman said Dekiling town plan, which began in 2003, has been scrapped. “Nothing happened after 2008 during which the town development work was stalled due to some political views. There are road networks, streetlights, and parking space but the plots are empty to this day.”

Thromde Thuemi, Ugyen Sangay, said development works are underway in all three LAPs. He said Dekiling town plan has not been canceled and people can start building houses if they want to.

Dzongkhag officials said that the Dekiling town plan alone has been canceled but it is still part of the Bumthang valley development plan that consists of three LAPs. The old Dekiling town plan falls under Dekiling LAP.

“Business people in Chamkhar town can move to any of the LAPs,” the official said. “We have not been able to build all the required amenities in the LAPs at the moment but they are not totally devoid of amenities at the same time.”

The official said that the GSB laying works in the Chamkhar LAP is being tendered and the same would be done for the other two LAPs.

He said they did not want Dekiling town plan to be a centralised town like some new townships in the country. “This is why the town plan was canceled. We don’t want all the facilities to be concentrated in one place causing traffic jams and shortage of parking space.”

The present Chamkhar town lies along the Chamkharchhu and a major portion of it lies in the flood Red Zone.

DLLC decided not to extend the lease agreement

Early this year, National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) and dzongkhag land and survey sector jointly conducted an investigation which found that 70 percent of the lessee had violated the lease agreements.

The lease agreement requires the lessee to utilise the leased land for only personal purposes and should not be rented out.

Twenty-six lessees had partially rented out their structures while 58 had totally rented out. Four lessees had even sold their leased plots along with structures. The NLC instructed Dzongkhag Land Lease Committee (DLLC) to take action.

The committee so decided not to extend the lease term from September next year.