An appeal was submitted to the speaker to revisit the Parliament’s decision on boundary demarcation  

Thromde: Gups from the two affected gewogs of Paro led by the Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) chairperson submitted an appeal letter to the National Assembly Speaker yesterday requesting the Parliament to reconsider its decision on the thromde boundary.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo, the gups said, however did not give any assurance on the possibility of considering their appeal during the hour-long meeting.

“The Speaker told us that it was not entirely in his hand to put up the issue in the Parliament,” DT Chairperson Phub Tshering said after the meeting. He said that the gups were told that it depends on the plenary committee to decide if the issue will be included in the winter session’s agenda.

The gups also met the Leader of Opposition (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho, who supported their appeal.

The local leaders had come to meet the Prime Minister and the National Council Chairperson as well, but they were not available.

In their petition letter, the gups wrote that the boundary maps endorsed by the Parliament was not the one that was passed by the Paro DT. The letter also states that the people rejected the decision on July 24 when they met with stakeholders from the election commission, the works and human settlement ministry and the Parliament.

In Wangchang gewog, 1,345 voters have fallen under the thromde and 475 voters are left with the gewog while in Hoongrel gewog, 300 voters are now in the thromde leaving out 186 with the gewog.

“The Speaker told us that the decision was passed according to the Constitution,” the DT Chairperson said. “However, they have misused the Constitution to make a wrong decision.”

The gups said that the very purpose of decentralisation would be defeated if the Parliament doesn’t care about the views of the people and the local government. “If they take such significant decisions arbitrarily, where is the role of the people and the local government?” Phub Tshering said.

He insisted that the Parliament should reconsider its decision as the decision was passed without understanding the ground realities. “The MPs voted blindly without understanding the issue, putting the people’s livelihood at stake,” he said.

The DT Chairperson said that about 50 acres of wetland have fallen under the thromde.

He said that the affected people are dependent on agriculture and that the inclusion of their land under the thromde would be economically miserable to the farmers. He added that the decision would also go against the country’s food self-sufficiency policy.

Hoongrel gup Sangay said that they had come representing the people of the affected gewogs, who have been pressurising them to request the Parliament. “We are receiving calls from people asking whether we are doing anything to help the affected people,” he said.

The gups said 59 representatives were selected by the people of the two gewogs to represent them but the group decided that it was not decent to come in such a large group. “So the people entrusted us with the responsibility to convey their message to the Parliament,” the DT Chairperson said.

The gups said that the people were also “worried” about Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay’s statement during the recent meet the press, where he said that once the Parliament passes it, the Constitution doesn’t allow change in boundaries for 10 years.

“The Parliament will consider it but I am sure it will break the provisions of the Constitution and all the other relevant laws,” lyonchhoen had said.

However, the gups said that not to reconsider the decision would also be against the spirit of the Constitution. “The Constitution should be for the people and the Parliament should look into people’s issues,” he said.

On what if their appeal doesn’t make it to the Parliament’s agenda, the gups said that they only wanted to convey the people’s message. “We don’t have any power to force the issue to be tabled in the Parliament,” he said.

The gups said that they had been pushing their plea despite criticisms that they were trying to protect their posts in disguise of representing the people. “But as long as we are serving the people, we are not worried about such criticisms,” he said.

In an earlier interview, the Speaker said that reconsidering a Parliament decision would set a bad precedent. On this, Lamgong-Wangchang MP Khandu Wangchuk, who also met the gups, said, “In the initial stage of democracy, the right precedent is to take the best decision in the people’s interest.”

Khandu Wangchuk said that while people usually preferred to come under a thromde, given the advantages, the people of Paro after due consideration have had the wisdom to request the government to not include the paddy fields in the thromde.

Once the paddy fields come under the thromde, it is a question of time before they turn into a concrete jungle. “Today, the stretch of paddy fields from the north of the air field in the heart of the Paro valley is greenery at its best,” he said adding that the main concern was the destruction of this scenic beauty.

(Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said the gup’s appeal was genuine. “We hope there would be deliberations on the issue and a solution,” he said.

He said a bad precedence has been already set by the Parliament by hastily passing the thromde boundaries without adequate groundwork . “The loss of land is a serious concern to the people,” he said.

On the government’s argument that the boundaries cannot be altered for ten years, he said that any law passed by the Parliament need not be implemented immediately. He said some acts are implemented only after some years of their enactment.

The gups also did not agree to the idea of carving out new chiwogs within the affected gewogs to keep the gewogs active.

The gups said that was not possible as most parts of the gewogs have been lost in the boundary demarcation. “The gewogs are now so small and it would be ridiculous to say that we may carve out new chiwogs there,” he said.

MB Subba