Constructions across the country are not complying with the Development Control regulations (DCR).

At the eighth engineers’, architects’ and planners’ conference, urban planner with the department of human settlement, Tshering Penjor, said that DCR is an essential document specifying the kind of use permitted in a precinct.

“DCR sets up an infrastructure design that cater to a certain population, so that, the quality of life is improved for people living in that area,” he said. DCR is a set of rules, which needs to be followed to ensure proper implementation of development plans. It includes rules and regulations such as Bhutan Building Rules, Road Rules & Regulations, Urban Roads Standard, Traditional Architecture Guidelines, Bhutan Architectural Guidelines and the Building Color Code of Bhutan.

He said non-compliance to DCR such as not following the prescribed Land use, not conforming to electrical safety standards, constructing on steep slopes and in the Road Right of Way were observed throughout Bhutan. Deviation from Bhutanese architecture guidelines, not following building color code, inadequate setbacks and ground coverage, inadequate parking space, unauthorised vertical and horizontal extensions were also observed.

Bhutanese architecture guidelines include entitlement of roof, window designs, system of kachen and zhu, traditional balcony railings and multiple window system among others.

The urban planner said that although, agriculture is permitted, construction is not allowed within 50ft of highway, 30ft of Dzongkhag roads and 20ft of farm roads.

He said that vertical extensions of buildings are considered only if DCR, structural feasibility and architectural requirements are fulfilled.

Tshering Penjor said non-compliance to DCR has social, cultural, environmental and safety related implications. “People refer to the bad precedents and do not want to follow rules but, there is pressure on infrastructure, people face safety hazards and there is environmental degradation,” he said. “If they do not comply with DCR, there is lack of ventilation, not enough room for sunlight and violation of privacy and security.”

On how effective were fines, chief urban planner, Chhado Drukpa, said, “If somebody is found constructing outside the rules, they have to pay the fine and demolish the structure.”

Works and Human Settlement minister, Dorji Choden, said that outsiders do not come to Bhutan to look at concrete buildings, but to look at Bhutanese architecture and environment. She said that infrastructure development should occur along with controlled construction so that no haphazard occurs. “This is a challenge we as planners are facing,” she said

The minister mentioned that the implementation of DCR should be objective and transparent. “When you go to the sites, you will face problems. Subjectivity is bound to happen because all sites are not same. The rules are the same for all but sites are not,” she said. The minister called on implementers, architects, building inspectors, planners and engineers to work with individuals to solve the problem.

She also highlighted the importance of informing people about DCR. She said there should not be pushing of responsibilities between the headquarters and dzongkhags. She said that planners and engineers should be aware of DCR and explain why some constructions are allowed when others are not. “People want to develop in the little property they have. When they are not allowed to, we have the responsibility to explain why it’s not allowed or why it is.”

She said proper communication could help solve the problem of non-compliance to DCR. The ministry however does not have a record of non-compliance cases.

Karma Cheki