Land: Sixty-nine-year-old Sangay Thinley of Jarigang in Wangdue has been running from the dzongkhag headquarters to Punatsangchu Hydropower Project Authority – I (PHPA-I) since 2009. He is tired and frustrated. His entire land was taken by the project in 2005.

After serving as a security guard at cement factory in Gomtu for more than 21 years, Sangay bought 1 acre and 31 decimal land near PHPA-I powerhouse in Rubesa gewog.

In 2005 the project started surveying his land and subsequently informed him that his lands would be taken by the project. The family of five lived there  growing vegetables, paddy and fruits.

“I have been running from government offices to project offices since 2005, requesting for better land replacement,” said Sangay.

The family was not allowed to work on their land. It was definite that the project would take the land. It was 2006. In 2009, the family was notified repeatedly to leave the land. “We were given Nu 11,000 compensation for vegetables and Nu 600,000 to dismantle the house and to leave our crops,” said Sangay.

Sangay’s daughter Sonam Choden, 30, said that when the project took their land, they were promised that the family would be given land replacement from a place of their choice that has road accessibility, electricity and water connections. What the family received in the end was a land on a sloppy and slide prone slope in Nadhotse in Gasey Tshoggoam gewog.

Sonam Choden said the land substitute was left pending until 2009, after which they were given a housing plot from Kamichu bazaar, which was already occupied by other people. While the lagthram for the plot was issued in their name, it took almost three years for them to chase away the former occupants.

“We were forcefully made to accept the lagthrams, and now PHPA-I has constructed four transmission poles on two ends of the field without our permission,” said Sonam.  “We have been writing letters and running from office to office. No one is listening to us.”

A real surprise came for the family when in 2014 Sonam Choden went to PHPA-I office with forwarding letter from the dzongkhag. She was told that transmission poles were constructed with the approval from the dzongkhag, forestry, and  all the other relevant offices. What she could not understand was how clearances could be issued in the same year when the family got the lagthram.

“While dzongkhag officials blame PHPA-I officials, the project blames the dzongkhag for not informing them about the lagthram issuance,” she said.

She requested the project to remove the transmission poles or to compensate the family with a minimal rental fee for occupying the land, but the project officials refused to remove the poles.

The projects have only always added problems for the family. Recently, PHPA-II asked them to move from the Kamichu plot as the project’s sub-station will be construction on Kamichu bazaar area. The family was compensated well for dismantling of house and loss of property and also were given plot replacement from the other side of road.

“Although PHPA-II has compensated us well, we are still doubtful about what will happen in the future. PHPA-I has taken our land and in return has only given us immense trouble,” said Sonam Choden.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue