Chimi Dema | Dagana

Three months have passed since the land demarcation of Dagapela Local Area Plan (LAP) was scheduled.  Plot owners, however, are still waiting for the plotting to begin.

In December last year, Dagana’s dzongkhag administration, following a verbal discussion with the National Land Commission Secretariat, issued a letter to Tsendagang and Gozhi gewog administrations, informing them that the land demarcation would happen in a month’s time.

In an effort to prepare for the demarcation, landowners had dismantled their old structures in the previous town area.  The shop owners are now operating businesses from temporary sheds on leased land above the previous town.

A businessperson, Nado, said that landowners were given 20 days to dismantle everything and move to the temporary sheds.

“We thought that the land demarcation would be carried out immediately and we’d be allowed to begin constructions,” he said. “But it isn’t happening now.”

Ap Nado has been running a business in Dagapela for the last 28 years.  He owns a liquor shop in the town.

He also said that living was becoming expensive, as he now needed to pay a monthly rent of Nu 7,200 for the leased land.

Another plot owner, San Man Thingh, said that there was literally no progress in the demarcation process.

“We’re struggling without access to enough water, proper sanitation and parking spaces in the current location,” he said. “The risk of fire outbreak is ever-present.”

One of the committee members for town development, Nar Bdr. Bal, said that the landowners were worried as demarcation was being delayed.

“We’ve written to the dzongkhag administration several times, sharing their concerns, however, land plotting is done by NLCS. We’d be happy if the plotting could be done soon,” he said.

A total of 36 plot owners received land ownership certificates between 2017 and 2018.

Spanning over 380 acres, Dagapela LAP is composed of three phases.  While phase 1 and 3 are designated for commercial and residential areas, phase 2 is identified as industrial areas.

The committee member also said that about 15 landowners in phase 2 are prepared for construction projects.

Without getting construction approval, Nar Bdr. Bal said that a few desperate individuals had constructed buildings illegally to operate businesses. “There were no other means of livelihood for them.”

While the projects constructed before 2016 would be allowed, he said that the constructions after 2016 would be dismantled and should be operated from temporary sheds while implementing town development work.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, the dzongkhag engineer, Jamyang Dorji, said that, although the demarcation was expected to be carried out immediately, officials from NLCS couldn’t come owing to the second nationwide lockdown and other reasons.

Following the demarcation of land, Jamyang Dorji said that the developmental plans would be implemented and the plot owners could begin construction projects.

“The preparation of the local area plan (LAP) is completed in principle,” he said. “But the implementation of activities will be known only after the land demarcation.”

Dagapela LAP will incorporate abundant open green spaces, recreation areas, walkways, multi-sports complexes.  The developmental plan has also been incorporated with two internal roads.

“If the plan can be implemented well, it will be a model town,” Jamyang Dorji said. “Unlike in other towns, wetlands wouldn’t be converted into dry land and farming would be encouraged as usual. Many people from other gewogs and dzongkhags have already booked commercial spaces even before the construction work is commenced,” said Tsendagang Gup Bal Bahadur Ram.

The construction of more buildings, he said, could ease existing problems of housing shortage in the town.

Jamyang Dorji said that the town development work would be completed within the current plan period.

The work to connect the town with an adequate drinking water supply is also underway.

The scarcity of water was one of the main reasons that town development plans were impeded.