All land transactions were above board, he claims, and vetted by the authorities concerned

Update: The Anti Corruption Commission need not go to Shar Phangyul in Wangduephodrang to verify the source of the 33-decimal at Lungtenphug, registered in the name of the former Chang gup, Naku’s daughter.

Speaking to Kuensel, the former gup said that the transfer of the land was done following all rules and procedures (jawi neychoe) and the commission could verify it from where the documents are stored. The gup said that the land, initially measuring 12 decimal, increased to 33 decimal after a survey based on “a 1988 map.”

“The size increased after officials surveyed the land, which measured to 33 decimal,” he said. “It was done following all procedures and in the presence of officials representing government agencies.”

The former gup said that a gup didn’t have the authority to register somebody’s land in his thram. “If there are issues with the land, officials won’t sign the document,” he said.

He also accused Kuensel of distorting information and defaming him and his family.

On the origin of the land, the former gup said the land was registered in the name of one Namgay Bidha.  He didn’t reveal who she was, but admitted that he bought the land from Namgay Bidha, but reflected as a gift, as is recorded in the Chagzhag thram.

He said that most land transactions were reflected as gift because of two reasons, which everybody including ACC officials are aware of. This he said was because people tried to avoid the law, which states that no land below five acres can be sold, according to the 1979 Land Act.

The other reason, he said, was because Nu 5 was charged for every Nu 100 of the cost of the land. “The transfer was done through the court and the commission can penalise me for saying that the land was gifted to me,” he said.

ACC is investigating the origin of the land, but the former gup said that no land in Thimphu is without an owner, and registering land in one’s name was impossible.

The size of the land increased or decreased during surveys in the past, he said. “It was a very common case. People had five decimal registered in the thram, but when surveyors surveyed the land, the excess land was considered, especially if there is no claimant and no issues related to it.”

Contradicting the complaint lodged against him, Naku said that there weren’t any complications and nobody, including the tshogpas, raised any issue when the land registered in his daughter’s name was surveyed.

According to Naku, it was difficult to acquire land with representatives of different officials present during the survey.  He said officials, including tshogpas, during the sathram compilation in 2002, signed the documents on the spot and on the same day of the survey.  The rest with issues, he said, were forwarded to the dzongkhag. “Mine wasn’t even referred to the dzongkhag as everybody signed it.”

He also said that the Kapa thram, which is made after the survey, could be made only after everybody agreed that there was no issue related to the land surveyed.  The Kapa thram has to be signed by the officials representing land commission, forestry department, gup, and tshogpas. “If they felt there was problem with my land, they wouldn’t sign,” he said.

The Land Act, the gup claimed, allowed people to readjust the size of the land if it was registered in the thram based on boundary.  Excess land was also adjusted after paying the cost of the excess land, if there were no claimants and no issues related to the excess land.

By Ugyen Penjore