As part of His Majesty’s land reform exercise, 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, as well as excess cost exemption and refund of Nu 3.368 million.

With Gasa, land kidu to resolve accumulated land issues across the country has been granted in 16 dzongkhags.

The land reform exercise began in 2007 with the Royal Command from His Majesty to carry out a National Cadastral Resurvey Programme (NCRP). 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 National Land Commission began this comprehensive survey from June 2008 and completed it by December 2013.

The NCRP brought to light various discrepancies in land use, records and ownership across the country.

The discrepancies are being resolved conclusively with His Majesty’s granting of land Kidu to those people who have been using state land for generations without ownership.

A total of 132,026.738 acres of land have been granted in 156 gewogs to 113,637 beneficiaries in Lhuentse, Bumthang, Mongar, Wangduephodrang, Haa, Dagana, Punakha, Trongsa, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Zhemgang, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Thimphu, Chukha, and Gasa since 2010. Beneficiaries have also been granted exemption of excess cost amounting to over Nu 2,201.43 million, in the 16 dzongkhags.

At the ceremony, the dzongkhag and gewog officials, and the people of Gasa offered Mendrel Ku Sung Thuk Ten to His Majesty The King.

His Majesty The King was escorted to the Langothang Plateau, an open-air natural stadium 4,000m metres above sea level, in a picturesque chipdrel, and was welcomed by the highland communities from five dzongkhags, visitors from other parts of the country, and tourists and trekkers.

Langothang was the venue for the 2nd Royal Highland Festival, where over 1,500 men, women, and children gathered to celebrate the rich nomadic culture and lifestyle across the kingdom’ northern belt.

The atmosphere of festivity which is natural to the highlanders, all dressed in a blaze of their unique colours, was highlighted by special features introduced to encourage sportsmanship and stamina, traditional lifestyle and culture, livestock, music and the arts, handicrafts, and the spirit of community living.

This year, on the request of village elders excited by last year’s run, a senior Layap relay was organised with men and women above 60 years from five chiwogs running an entertaining relay race.

A freezing afternoon of sleet and winds did not dampen a highland favourite – the horse race. Sangay Tenzin from Laya outran four other horsemen in the final race. Other sporting events were an inter-chiwog women’s tug-o-war.

The cultural programme included a yak dance and songs and dances that are unique to the highland community.

Dignitaries attending the festival included the ambassador of India to Bhutan, Jaideep Sarkar, UNDP Deputy resident representative, Niamh Collier Smith, expatriates living in Bhutan, and tourists on various treks passing through Laya.

Staff Reporter