Land: The government plans to lease tsamdro and sokshing soon but highlanders in Gasa are still shrouded in confusion.

The government is expected to complete paying compensation by the end of this financial year. Once the government completes paying compensation, tsamdro and sokshing will be leased.

The dzongkhag has received tsamdro compensations for two of its four gewogs, Khatoed and Khamed. However, local leaders and people say they are unclear on the leasing of tsamdro and sokshing.

Khamed Gup Karma Tshering said that people are confused. He said that they even asked the government to clarify on how it would implement the lease of the tsamdro and sokshing but nothing has happened so far.

The Land Act 2007 allows deletion of rights, reverting sokshing and tsamdro to the government, payment of compensation to owners and leasing of reverted tsamdros and sokshing, 10 years after the enactment of the Act. The purpose is to achieve equitable distribution of resources.

Going by the Land Act, Karma Tshering said sokshing is government reserve forest land after reverting and could be leased. “But if it is government land, we’re not allowed to use it for gewog infrastructure development,” he said.

The gup said the parliamentarians discussing tsamdro and sokshing as one, deepened their confusion. There are other issues where some holding older thrams still have sokshing ownership.

Another local leader said there are issues where some tsamdro and sokshing have become parts of community forest.

As per The Land Act 2007, tsamdro shall be leased only to lessees who are residents of the dzongkhag where tsamdro is situated. Leasing preference would be given to previous rights holders and community based on herd size.

Local leaders said limiting it to thram holders from a particular dzongkhag could pose problems.

For example, people from Paro who used to own winter pasture rights in Chukha, might be deprived of it, as they can’t take tsamdro on lease from Chukha. Similar problems could arise in dzongkhags where people migrate with their livestock seasonally. Some tsamdro have two-three owners, who take turns to use it.

However, as per the Land Act, highlanders who are dependent on tsamdro can retain their tsamdro rights under lease irrespective of possession of livestock and their herd size. The lease period for highlanders is 30 years with possibility of extension, as per the Act.

The Act also states that the reverted sokshing in rural areas could be converted to leasehold at individual and community level. However, sokshing land without trees would not be leased.

The tsamdro compensation rate was fixed as per the 1996 land compensation rates, and for every acre of tsamdro, the government pays Nu 200.

For two gewogs, Gasa received tsamdro compensation of Nu 120,000. Only five households from two gewogs owned tsamdro, and the majority belonged to the dratshang.

Gasa Dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said they are yet to receive compensation for Laya and Lunana gewogs. Laya has one of the highest tsamdro owners.

A total of 5,422 tsamdros measuring 1.31 million acres have been nationalised with the implementation of the Land Act 2007. Almost 40 percent of Bhutanese depend on grazing land, mainly highlanders.

Dawa Gyelmo | Gasa