Land: The gewog tshogdu of Daga in Wangdue has decided to once again raise an issue about the Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project Authority-II using gewog land for developmental activities, at the upcoming dzongkhag tshogdu that is set to happen today.

Gewog officials said that in 2007, PHPA-II had taken 1.62 acres of land belonging to Daga gewog from the Kamichhu area for developmental activities like the construction of a sub-station and powerhouse.

Since the gewog owns around 6.62 acres of land for the gewog centre, the then gewog officials decided to issue a clearance for PHPA-II to use the land.

This could have been done because the gewog centre could comfortably fit in the remaining five acres, and the land given was for the benefit of country’s mega project, said gewog officials.

Following which the project authority tried to acquire the land and the transfer process was even begun. Project officials approached the land commission as well. However, they couldn’t transfer the land to the project due to various reasons.

But PHPA-II started construction of the powerhouse and sub-station on that land in 2010-2011.

Since there were no terms and conditions drawn between the gewog and PHPA-II, nothing was done, said gewog officials.

Gewog officials added that in 2014, PHPA-II conducted a public consultative meeting on clean development mechanism, where a question-answer session was also conducted. During the session, the former local leaders and villagers accused PHPA-II and present local leaders of Daga gewog for allegedly selling and transferring the gewog land to PHPA-II.

However, since the land record officer was also present at the meeting, he clarified to the public that the land was not yet transferred to PHPA-II.

Following concerns raised by people, PHPA-II also agreed to take the land on lease, and asked to make an agreement. But due to a change of concerned officials the lease agreement could not come through on time.

Gewog officials said the gewog tshogdue then decided that it would be wise to ask for the maintenance of the Taksha-silli and Uma farm roads as payment for land use. Subsequently the issue was raised at the dzongkhag tshogdu in 2015 where PHPA officials were also present.

Following the tshogdu, PHPA officials asked the gewog officials to submit an estimation of the farm road maintenance. Around Nu 3 million for the Uma farm road maintenance and Nu 4 million for Taksha-silli farm roads was asked for said gewog officials.

But PHPA officials found the estimation too high, and told the gewog that the project could give only between Nu 500,000 to Nu 600,000.

Since the money would not be enough for the maintenance of two farm roads that were of 11km and 23km long, the gewog tshogdu decided to once again raise the issue at the upcoming dzongkhag tshogdu, said gewog officials.

Gewog officials said they proposed for farm road maintenance because the gewog does not have funds to repair the farm roads. People also opted for farm road maintenance. The Taksha-Silli farm road gets blocked at least five times a year and proper maintenance requires significant budget.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue