Land: Unhappy with the monetary compensation they received, about 46 landowners in Tobesa gewog, Punakha who lost land to the Semtokha-Wangdue highway-widening project have requested the gewog to revisit the issue.

Landowners said that they lost about one to nine decimals for which they expected land replacement and not cash compensation. The landowners received Nu 10 to Nu 33,000 as compensation last year which they said was less.

Landowners who lost about seven to nine decimals even wrote to the gewog officials. They said that the government could take an additional three to four decimals of land and provide them land substitution instead of cash.

Landowner Kinley Wangmo, 34, said she was not upset when she lost eight decimals of land above Thinleygang town last year for she thought that she would receive land replacement.

However, Kinley Wangmo said that she received a compensation of Nu 31,000 for eight decimals of land. “The compensation is less considering the present market rate of Nu 28,000-35,000 per decimal in Thinleygang,” she said.

Tobesa Mangmi Gyem Tshering said about 51 landowners have lost parts of their lands to road widening, of which only five were given land substitutes while the rest were given cash compensation in line with the government rate.

The five landowners received land substitution in line with the Land Act as they lost more than 10 decimals of land.

“We requested for land substitute for others but we’re told that as per the Land Act, land measuring less than 10 decimals are not eligible for land substitution,” he said.

Thinleygang chiwog tshogpa Thinley said that among the 46 landowners some lost only about one to four decimals while most of them lost about eight decimals, which is not fair for the people.

Tshogpa Thinley added that when the government takes about six to eight decimals, the remaining land becomes fragile and starts to slide down making it impossible for people to continue paddy plantation.

During the sixth dzongkhag tshogdu last year, mangmi Gyem Tshering said the gewog requested government to take at least 10 decimals of land lying within 50 ft from the road so that people would receive land substitute. However, the government denied the request and provided cash compensation to the landowners.

Sonam Pelden, 27, another landowner from Tobesa said she also lost around eight decimals of land for which she received about Nu 33,000.

“Even if we are to buy land from nearby villages, we won’t even get two decimals of land with the cash compensation we received,” Sonam said. “Our land was located near the road and it’s the only land that we’ve.”

Sonam Pelden said that the remaining land has been sliding after a portion of it was lost to the highway widening. She said that the retention walls were not constructed well to protect the remaining land.

Initially when the widening works began, Sonam Pelden said they were told that walls would be built to ensure that the area does not slide.

Mangmi Gyem Tshering raised the issue again at the recent dzongkhag tshogdu during which he submitted that the government look for an alternative to provide land substitution.

Dawa Gyelmo, Punakha