Although those households falling within the areas of dzongkhag thromde, yenlag thromde, and areas within two kilometers radial distance from declared thromde boundaries are ineligible for subsidised timber, there are exceptions, according to agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji.

This was shared in response to Bji Kar Tshog Uesu MP Kinley Om’s question at the National Assembly on November 28, on the ministry’s plans to resolve the issue of equal allotment of subsidised timber in rural areas.

She said that although all households living in rural areas are eligible for subsidised timber, section 294 of the Forest and Nature Conservation Rules and Regulations of Bhutan, 2017 restricts this.

Chapter 9, section 294 states that areas declared by the government as dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromde, and those falling within two kilometers radial distance from the declared boundary of thromdes are not eligible for subsidised timber.

She said that five chiwogs under Kar Tshog gewog falls within the 2 kilometer radius of dzongkhag thromde.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji, said that section 294 is a general clause and that exceptions are provided in section 295 of the Forest and Nature Conservation Rules and Regulations of Bhutan, 2017.

Section 295 states that subsidised timber are allocated if an applicant is a native of the area, the applicant is the head of Gung, in whose name the land on which construction will take place is duly registered, the timber requirement is for bona-fide rural use, the rural house to be constructed with subsidised timber is for the personal dwelling of the applicant and his family, and the land on which the rural house is to be constructed is inherited and not purchased by the applicant.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that the directives on incentives for management of protected zones within thromde boundary issued by the works and human settlement ministry on June 8, 2016 also mention the eligibility of subsidies in rural areas.

Section two of the directive states that in thromdes or areas within thromdes without approved plan or where basic infrastructure are not developed, the incentives comprise tax concession and subsidies on rural tax (land and house), electricity charges (100 units free), building materials subsidy (timber, stone, and sand for renovation where there are existing structures and new house constructions where permissible), and agricultural or farming subsidy (all incentives available for agriculture and farming in rural areas).

Karma Cheki