Lhakpa Quendren

SARPANG — With the exception of families engaged in dividing land inheritance, all commercial land transactions in Sarpang have been temporarily frozen, following an announcement by local government leaders a week ago.

While residents, including land buyers and sellers, have acknowledged the freezing announcement, those in the midst of ongoing land transitions have expressed concerns regarding the sudden halt.

Penjor Gyeltshen, who recently purchased land at Dechenpelri (Edi), is among those affected by the decision. “I hope we would be allowed to complete the transition process. If we were informed in advance, we would have expedited the transaction process,” he said.

Penjor Gyeltshen shared his frustration over encountering technical difficulties during the online registration process following the signing of a legal agreement. “The online system was not accepting the submissions, and we later discovered that the land transaction has been suspended since Thursday.”

Dawa Tshering, a resident of Chhuzangang, acknowledged the freezing decision as a positive step for local communities. He highlighted the increasing number of outsiders attempting to purchase land and influencing villagers to sell their properties. However, he noted that in his gewog, there has been limited land sale due to the availability of sufficient water for agricultural purposes, which encourages farmers to utilise their lands for farming rather than selling.

A resident of Gakiling raised concerns about the influence of family members of high-ranking officials in Sarpang, alleging that they persuade villagers to sell their lands at lower rates. The incident involving the wife of a civil servant who visited with friends from Thimphu was cited as an example. The resident claimed that the visitor mentioned the future value of the lands would not be favourable for the owners.

Villagers suspect that local government leaders and officials holding managerial positions in Sarpang have purchased land at lower prices, potentially taking advantage of their knowledge about future developmental plans for the region.

Various individuals involved in land-related businesses, such as real estate, land brokers, private land surveying, and land transaction firms, have acknowledged the decision and are now awaiting further information and guidance.

Nirupa Ghalley, proprietor of Chundu Real Estate, expressed concerns about the well-being of clients facing urgent financial needs and the need to sell their properties.

Yadu Pati Katel, proprietor of a private survey firm in Gelephu, remains hopeful that the land transaction process will resume in due course. He believes the current suspension is temporary and will be lifted to allow the completion of ongoing land transactions.

While the temporary freezing of land transactions is in effect in Sarpang, it has been reported that buying and selling of land continues to take place through mutual agreement between the involved parties.

Dorji Penjor, the proprietor of a land transaction firm in Jigmeling, raised concerns about the lack of prior notice regarding the sudden suspension. He noted that his firm continues to provide services for dividing inheritance land among families. Dorji Penjor stated that he inquired with dzongkhag land officials about the suspension and was informed that it is a temporary measure for data collection.

This temporary freezing of land transactions in Sarpang comes two months after the imposition of a construction moratorium in April.