Distribution will resume after the third round of cadastral resurvey completes

NLC: Until the on-going third round of cadastral resurvey is complete, it is uncertain how long it would take to distribute the new lagthrams (land ownership certificate) to the remaining seven dzongkhags.

Until today, Lhuentse, Mongar, Trashigang, Tashiyangtse, Bumthang, Trongsa, Dagana, Wangdue Phodrang, Samdrupjongkhar, Punakha, Haa, Zhemgang, Pemagatshel; three thromdes of Gelephu, Samdrupjongkhar and Thimphu have received the new lagthrams.

Although the National Land Commission (NLC) had assured last year December, that all lagthrams would be issued by February end, too many dispute, omitted and absentee cases pressured for another extend, according to officials. There were also grievances from landowners dissatisfied with the past cadastral survey, which needs re-verification.

Initially NLC had targeted to complete the issuance by 2014 yearend.

Land commission secretary Pema Chewang said, despite two rounds of cadastral resurveys, the commission received at least two land appeals every day. In each dzongkhag, there is a minimum of 800 pending cases of dispute and absentee (landlord not turning up during the survey).

To verify such cases, including z-plots (excess land) in all 20 dzongkhags, His Majesty The King commanded the NLC to involve RBA personnel to carryout the third and the last round of National Cadastral Re-surveying Programme (NCRP) exercise.

A team of 40 armed force personnel along with NLC survey engineers is in Punakha currently carrying out the pilot phase of the third cadastral resurvey.  After completing Punakha the team will make a detailed presentation to the commission on the kind of cases that were resolved.  Punakha alone has 1,167 pending cases.

The third NCRP is initiated to inculcate fairness and transparency in the surveying methodology and approaches. It is also envisioned that the public will have greater levels of confidence when uniformed personnel who are disciplined and have strict adherence to chain of command carry out surveying.

“How soon the third round will be over depends on the number and type of cases; other dzongkhags may not take longer like Punakha,” the secretary said. “We’re hopeful that we should be able to expedite.”

The team was selected after six weeks of intensive training on cadastral surveying.  A competency test was conducted, from which only 40 were selected from the initial 88 personnel.

Surveyors from the armed forces were also commanded that while in the field, they should neither undermine nor misunderstand their role as RBA but achieve credibility by rendering fair and transparent services to the public irrespective of level and background.

“If we’ve to resolve these pending cases, we’ve to resolve it once and for all,” the secretary said. “The on-going third round is the final round. There will be no re-cadastral re-surveys hereafter.”However, surveys will be carried out for inheritance, sale and purchase.

The secretary added that as per the guidelines, the commission’s objective is to resolve all cases immediately when the team is on the ground. But there are individuals who are not happy and appeal to the commission.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry and the land commission have come to an agreement to resolve all land exchange cases jointly. For that, four teams of five people each are in the dzongkhags currently studying the cases. The genuineness of requirement of exchange will be decided jointly after the study is complete.

After relieving the 217 people the commission had hired on a five-year contract during the cadastral survey, the commission is facing an acute human resource gap both in the headquarters as well as dzongkhags in carrying out routine works. To meet the gap about 90 land record officers, surveyors and assistant land registrars were recruited recently through the Royal Civil Service Commission.

By Nirmala Pokhrel