Towards this end, the commission has sent a land inspector each to all 20 dzongkhags

NLC: Local leaders are overwhelmed with land related issues in the gewogs, especially with cases of individuals encroaching on to state land and constructing houses on wetland, knowingly or unknowingly.

To facilitate people facing such issues, the National Land Commission (NLC) last week sent a land inspector each to all 20 dzongkhags.  Their main role is to monitor encroachment into state land, use of state land leased, and construction of houses in the road right of ways.   The land inspectors are expected to curb violation of land act right from the start. 

Also by October, a surveyor and land record assistant each for three to four gewogs together will be sent to render land administration and management services to the gewog.

Head of urban land division, Yeshi Dorji, said a circular was sent to gewog to submit cases of encroachment into state land, including construction of houses on state land without thram (registration.)

“A total of 71 houses are reported to have constructed on state land across the country to date,” he said. “Such cases will be dealt as per the Land Act.”

Section 128 of the Land Act 2007 states that encroachment on any state owned and private registered land shall be prohibited.  Section 299 further states that any person committing any of the following acts shall be guilty of an offence of petty misdemeanour, and shall be liable to be sentenced in accordance with the Bhutan Penal Code.

The issue about people encroaching into state land and constructing on wetland was raised during the recent gewog tshogdu and dzongkhag tshogdu chairperson’s conference in Thimphu.

Land pooling for development activities, such as farm roads, was one of the issues raised.

Trongsa DT chairperson, Tashi Pendhey, said that land pooling in the name of zhunglam jakey was unfair for people with less land holdings.  He said, if a farmer owned 16 decimal land and 14 decimal was given for farm road construction, farmers will be left with nothing.  Although the farmer will be compensated for the 14 decimal land, he will never be able to register the remaining two decimal.

“It’ll be helpful if land commission could come up with alternatives,” he said.

At the conference, NLC secretary, Pema Chewang, said that the commission was studying if it was possible to do away with leasing out government land to individuals.  Although it’s not yet confirmed, the commission, following directives from the cabinet, is planning to lease land for group farming.

Meanwhile, a team of 40 armed force personnel is in Punakha to verify z-plots (excess land) and taking up absentee, pending and disputed cases left out during the recent cadastral resurvey, so that land issues are resolved for all time.

Nirmala Pokhrel