Inequality breeds contempt. Contempt gives rise to diseases in a society – of kinds and kinds. Some sort of equality can be achieved, though. Bhutan and the Bhutanese have been singularly fortunate because it has been the vision of our peerless leaders to bring down and to ultimately eliminate disparity in the society, small as ours is.

Since 2010, His Majesty The King has granted a total of 133,287.765 acres of land as Kidu to 123,265 beneficiaries in 171 gewogs in Lhuentse, Bumthang, Mongar, Wangdue, Haa, Dagana, Punakha, Trongsa, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Zhemgang, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Thimphu, Chukha, Gasa, and Samtse. For an agrarian society with a fledgling economy, land is the biggest asset.

Beneficiaries were granted exemption of excess cost amounting to over Nu 2,212.644 million (M) in the 17 dzongkhags. The amount was accumulated as a result of state land us, which now belong to individual recipient. The past year saw 10,785 beneficiaries of Samtse and Gasa and another 333 recipients of Khimsa Kidu (land allocated for the purpose of constructing a house) in Merak and Sakteng in Trashigang.

His Majesty The King granted land Kidu to 1,157 thram holders from four gewogs in Gasa on October 23. The beneficiaries received a total of 433.58 acres of land as Kidu. They were granted excess cost exemption and refund of Nu 3.368M.

On January 21 this year, His Majesty granted Khimsa Kidu to the people of Merak and Sakteng.  A total of 63.02 acres of land was granted to 333 recipients. Eighteen of them were landless. In 2015, when His Majesty visited Merak and Sakteng, accompanied by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and spent three days each in the both villages, His Majesty told the people of the two villages that issues concerning Khimsa and Tsamdro, the most important issues for the people in the villages, would be addressed soon.

The dzongkhag administration, National Land Commission (NLC), and the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement worked identified the plots and worked on the subsequent development plans.

On January 29, His Majesty granted land Kidu to 9,628 beneficiaries of Samtse. A total of 1,261.027 acres of land was granted as Kidu to the people of the dzongkhag’s 15 gewogs.

Samtse is the 17th dzongkhag where land Kidu has been granted as part of the nationwide land reform following the National Cadastral Resurvey Programme carried out by NLC.

The land reform exercise began in 2007 with the Royal Command from His Majesty.

His Majesty commanded that land issues must be resolved once and for all: “If we do not take it upon ourselves today to carry out a massive and all encompassing exercise, then like in the past, we will only make small improvements on the existing system but leave the biggest problems unresolved burdening the future generations.”

The NLC began a comprehensive survey from June 2008 and completed it by December 2013. The survey, which made use of the most advanced technology available to ensure that records would be authoritative, helped clarify discrepancies and longstanding land issues.

The survey brought to light various discrepancies in land use, records and ownership across the country. His Majesty’s land Kidu made possible people who have been using state land for generations without ownership to own land. Such discrepancies had occurred due to less accurate means of measurements in the past, among others.

Resolving land issues is an on-going project covering the entire country. Land Kidu is being granted in phases to ensure that recipients who were not able to have their land holdings verified the first time round are still eligible for Kidu.

Bhutan has only seven percent or 664,000 acres of land that is arable. His Majesty has been granting land Kidu so that whatever amount of land could be put to use is put to best use. Land ownership, or the lack of it, has direct relationship poverty and inequality in the society.

During the National Day celebration in Trongsa, His Majesty said: “The objective of the Land Kidu is to place the much-treasured land upon the hands of our people, and enable them to use it to better their lives and secure the future of their children.

“It is a concern that in a rapidly growing economy, inequality may bring great divides in our society between the rich and the poor. Another objective of the Land Kidu has been to empower and uplift people, and allow them to prosper.”

On June 29, 2017, His Majesty The King also granted Citizenship Kidu to 137 individuals. The recipients took an Oath of Allegiance to the Tsawa-Sum at the Kuenrey of the Tashichhodzong.

His Majesty has granted citizenship to over 9,000 individuals till date. Kidu from the throne, of land and citizenship, are granted all in the effort to achieve some sort of equality in the society.

Rinzin Wangchuk