Gewog: Don’t sell land in exchange for vehicles or any amount of money said the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay at a meeting with the villagers of Geney gewog yesterday.

Lyonchoen who was accompanied by the agriculture minister said that the villagers have to weigh the long-term implications over quick short-lived gains.

“People will come making offers but it would not do you any good in the long run,” he said, urging villagers to see reason in the growing economic prospects of the gewog after the establishment of a central school and the blacktopping of the gewog centre road that has started.

“There is no substitute for your land,” Lyonchoen said.

In the past 10 years, Geney, one of the remotest gewogs in Thimphu, has seen unprecedented influx of new settlements in the gewog, locals said.

The new settlements have mushroomed mainly near the gewog centre.

Former Geney gup, Karma Gyaltshen said there are about 60 new households who have bought land and settled in the gewog since 2006.

There are today 93 households.

“Some villagers have sold land for Nu 10,000 a decimal of land,” a villager, Nim Dorji said.

Lyonchoen cited the example of Taba, a hamlet that has now become crammed with buildings.

“There original residents are very few and the new settlers have occupied most of the space,” Lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen added that the trend could accelerate further given the pace of development in the gewog.

In the past three fiscal years, the gewog spent Nu 13.4 million, exceeding its initial budget allocation of Nu 11.2 million, completing 90 percent of the planned works in the 11th Plan.

The gewog has about Nu 7.1 million this fiscal year, Lyonchoen said.

The gewog has a level-two Basic Health Unit, and two schools with 661 students and 26 teachers.  The gewog has 27 power tiller and villagers said they have been using the green house provided by the government to earn additional income.

Lyonchoen also encouraged the villagers to open accounts with the gewog bank. At present only 30 have accounts with the bank in the gewog. The gewog will have its farm shop this month.

The gewog lies between 2,023 to 4,533 metres above sea level. Most of the villages are scattered and far away from the feeder road making access, which has made developmental services difficult and costly.

A feeder road, which is being blacktopped, provides the main access to the gewog connecting it to the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway.

The main cash crop for the communities is Matsutake mushrooms locally known as Sangay Shamu.

The gewog is 40km away from Thimphu.

Lyonchoen will visit kawang and Mewang gewogs in Thimphu today.

Tshering Palden