Waiting for review of Education City Act

Three years after the Education City Project was shut, the government is yet to decide on the utilisation of the land earmarked for the education city at Wang Sisina, which has since remained idle.

The government shut down the Education City project in March 2014 after the National Land Commission said that land acquisition at Wang Sisina had contravened provisions of the Land Act 2007. An area of about 1,000 acres of land was identified for the project. The Land Commission called it illegal.

Works and Human Settlement Minister, Dorji Choden, who is also the chairperson of the Education City Project board, said that although there is no specific directive from the government, they would look into the possibility of determining the use of the land while reviewing Thimphu Structural Plan.

“It’s a good piece of land and we cannot leave it idle. We need to see the possibilities of how best to use the land,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said. “But there are no immediate plans.”

The minister said that since Thimphu Structural Plan is due for revision with growing population, if possible, they would also look into the land to develop as a part of the plan although it is beyond the jurisdiction of Thimphu Thromde. “But we’ve not decided anything yet,” she said.

The project office at Motithang and infrastructures like bridge, a power substation, boreholes, and a 2.4km road at Wang Sisina were handed over to the department of roads in 2015.

“We make sure that we maintain the road and take care of other infrastructure at the site,” Lyonpo said. “If any new plans come up, it can be implemented immediately but currently no other works are carried out.”

Officials from the works and human settlement ministry said that since Wang Sisina is beyond the city’s jurisdiction, it is unlikely that they would look into the possibilities of extending the Thimphu Structural Plan to Wang Sisina, unless they receive directives from the government. “We have no directives on what to do with the land as of now. It would remain idle until a plan comes up.”

An official from the ministry said that unless the Education City Act 2012 is repealed, the project can neither be closed nor any other developmental work could take place as the project is governed by the Act. The Parliament passed the Education City Act in 2012.

“The government, through proper channel, can take the decisions on what to be done with the education city Act. Otherwise, the education city project would only exist on paper.”

On the education city Act, Lyonpo Dorji Choden said it has been already submitted to the National Law Review Task Force to review the Act along with other legislations.

“We’re waiting for the review and if the review finds out that the Act is enacted particularly for the education city in Wang Sisina, we will have to put up to the parliament and repeal the Act,” Lyonpo said. “But if the Act was enacted for the benefit of overall education in future, we’ll have to look into the Act and see how to implement it.”

Yangchen C Rinzin