Choki Wangmo

The Supreme Court in 2016 announced that the demarcation between the dzongkhag and yenlag thromdes (satellite towns) should be retained according to the Thromde Rules of Bhutan 2010 until the National Land Commission decides.

The Thromde Rules 2010 for declaration of dzongkhag thromde states: “The demarcation of the approved thromdes shall be carried out in consultation with the National Land Commission Secretariat and local governments.”

An area is declared a yenlag thromde if it has a resident population of more than 1,500 irrespective of their census, 50 percent or more of the population is dependent on non-primary activities and an area of not less than 50 acres, the rule states.

Member of Parliament (MP) from Nganglam,  Choida Jamtsho, said that despite the Supreme Court writ, several dzongkhags had designated green and red zones, stopping people from constructing houses and carrying out other developmental activities.

The MP cited an example from his constituency saying that designation of red and green zones in Nganglam had stopped construction works in the thromde area. Construction outside the thromde area was not allowed as it either fell within the economic hub or the biological corridor.

“As a result, it is hard to bring development and start new economic activities in the area, depriving people of opportunities,” he said.

Further to that, the government collects tax from these areas just like other established thromdes, MP said, causing inconvenience to the residents.

He asked the works and human settlement minister Dorji Tshering on how the government was addressing problems faced by people due to zonation activities in dzongkhags and yenlag thromdes.

Green and red zones are an inevitable component of local area plan and human settlement plan, said Lyonpo in his response to a question during the National Assembly’s question and answer session yesterday.

Green zones are designated area in which there should not be any constructions or excavations, whereas red zones are areas that have higher risk and vulnerability and increasing exposure to disasters.

Lyonpo said that while developing human settlement plan and local area plan, the government did not designate throms. “The throms were allocated according to local government and people’s needs. For instance, Kabesa is not under Thimphu thromde but the area had its own local area plan,” the minister said.

Similarly, Taktse in Trongsa and Buli in Zhemgang do not fall under dzongkhag or yenlag thromdes but according to people’s needs, there are local area plans, Lyonpo said.

He said that the people of Nganglam asked the ministry to develop their local area plan. “Red and green zones within local area plan is necessary; it should be there. The designation is the same in all plans across the country.”

The taxes collected by the government, according to Lyonpo, were in line with the order from the Supreme Court and the Thromde Rules 2010.  “Whenever there are issues related to taxes, we solve it in collaboration with the finance ministry.”