…Three former LG leaders and two gewog officials in Norgaygang face charges of illegal farm road construction

Rinzin Wangchuk

With the submission of documentary evidence on December 24, Tashichhoeling drungkhag court, Samtse will conduct the cross-examination of witnesses in connection with the illegal construction of farm road this week.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has charged three former local government leaders and two gewog officials for constructing 1.4 kilometres Chungu farm road in 2020 without approval from the dzongkhag and Department of Law and Order.

The former Norgaygang gup, Rinchen Dorji, has been charged with six counts of illegal construction of road under the Road Act, construction of road without environment clearance under the Environment Assessment Act, encroachment of state land under the Land Act, official misconduct, malicious mischief and breach of public order and tranquility under the Penal Code.

The former mangmi Goley and former tshogpa Karchung are charged with two counts of accomplice liability with the gup for malicious mischief and breach of public order and tranquility. The site engineer of the gewog,  Aei Man Limbu and the gewog administrative officer, Yeshey Rangdrol, have been booked for failing to report the crime.

The prosecutor requested the court to order the former gup to reinstate the cost incurred from the public fund in constructing the road and plant trees and restore the natural resources damaged  by the road construction.

The case

The alleged illegal road construction issue was surfaced last year. The gewog administration had written to the dzongkhag administration seeking approval to construct a farm road from Satsangma-Joenpang  and Joenpang to Chungu in Norgaygang gewog on October 25, 2019. The dzongkhag, after reviewing the application, written to the gewog disapproving the construction on security grounds and its proximity to the border.

The gewog again submitted its second request in writing on December 16, 2019 to consider their request. The dzongkhag administration then forwarded the issue to the Department of Law and Order.  The department did not approve on the same grounds.

This is the second case the OAG is prosecuting the case pertaining to illegal construction of road. The Trashiyangtse dzongkhag court on August 14 this year convicted Khamdang- Ramjar Member of Parliament, former Khamdang mangmi and four nephews of the MP with the prison term ranging from three years and nine months to five years for illegal construction of a road in a restricted area. The court allowed them to pay thrimthue in lieu of their prison terms.

All defendants appealed to the High Court against the lower court’s rulings.