Land: Sangay Choden, 44, runs a small shop in the Kamichu bazar on the Tsirang-Wangdue highway. It is her home, her livelihood and her future. She settled down in Kamichu 24 years ago.

Insecurity has grasped the single mother of five from Mongar. She had been receiving notices to vacate the government land she had occupied and dismantle the temporary structure from where she runs a shop.

There are seven other shops in Kamichu that according to the local government is illegal. “I have nowhere to go,” she said. There are 16 illegal occupants recorded with the Daga gewog who submitted the list to the land commission in 2014 after the commission asked land record officials in all 20 dzongkhags to list illegal occupants in the gewogs.

Phobjikha gewog reportedly has the maximum encroachments in Wangdue. Most of illegal structures include cowsheds, fencings and huts to store animal feed. In April 2014, following land commission’s notification, two one-storied structures were dismantled, making that the first action taken by the gewog against the illegal encroachment on government land. However, Phobjikha gup Jamtsho said that happened following people’s complaint against one-another.

In an earlier interview, gup Jamtsho said most structures built on government land were cowsheds that existed for decades, including a few huts that operated as shops. Such encroachments were reported from almost all 15 gewogs of Wangdue, said another gup.

The Nigsho gup during the recent dzongkhag tshogdu raised the issue where he said controlling illegal structures were becoming difficult.

In Dangchu gewog, more than 40 percent of the villagers have such structures built on the government land, which is also common in Tshogoam gewog. A Tshogwom villager said the moment people stepped out of their house; it was government land, as land they possessed was far from their houses.

As per the Land Act, construction or occupying of any land irrespective of government or others is not allowed, if it does not belong to the occupant.

Land commission officials said that soon the commission would deploy land inspectors in all the gewogs to conduct surveys and verify the list they received.

An official said the survey was needed as some of the reports submitted by the gewogs mightnot match with the land holdings of individual. “Subsequently we will take action,” he said.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangduephodrang