Former leaseholders, deprived of grazing rights, have received no compensation to date

Pasture lands: Bumthaps (people of Bumthang) are losing their tsamdro to the natives of dzongkhags like Zhemgang, Mongar and Lhuentse, even as they wait for the lease right, on which the government has not made much headway.

The government reverted all tsamdro rights, so that it could be leased out to the needy.  The idea was to lease the tsamdros within 10 years of the Land Act 2007 coming into effect.

But without any progress, people in all four gewogs of Bumthang owning tsamdro in neighbouring dzongkhags, like Zhemgang in south, Mongar and Lhuentse in the east, and Trongsa in the west, are increasingly being denied the grazing rights.  Herders of Ura keep their cattle in Kurtoe and Mongar for over eight months, from September to April-May every year.

Similarly, villagers of Chumey keep their cattle in lowlands of Trongsa and Zhemgang for over five winter months.

According to Ura gup, Dorji Wangchuk, people from Ura, Shingkhar and Tangsibi, who owned tsamdro in other dzongkhags, still complain of losing their pastures to native dzongkhags.  Villagers from Zhemgang, Lhuentse, Mongar and Trongsa now use some tsamdros, even though the government is yet to compensate their owners in Bumthang.

“Uraps wrote to gewog to resolve the issue, or at least inform the people from other dzongkhags to refrain from using the tsamdro,” Dorji Wangchuk said.

Shingkhar tshogpa, Konchola, said that tsamdro, which earlier rarely sparked disputes among neighbours, became a problem after the tsamdro rights were deleted from their thrams.

Earlier, villagers never faced intrusions, because people of native dzongkhags refrained from using these tsamdros, as Uraps were the rightful owners.  People from Ura paid taxes for these tsamdros, which was discontinued after the 2007 land Act came into effect.

“Now people from lowlands claim these tsamdro as an entitlement, since it was reverted to government land,” Konchola said.

He added that, since 2007, their neighbours from Kurtoe have been using their tsamdros in Kiwang, Lapung and Gorsumay, which are near their villages.

Tangsibi villagers, owning tsamdro in Shingkhar, Wamling and Khisa in Zhemgang, are also losing their pastures to the natives.

“Villagers are saying that tsamdros will be only for those owning the cattle,” Tangsibi tshogpa, Zangla, said, adding that, in the past, indiscriminate of whether one owned cattle or not, they had tsamdros in Zhemgang.

“Tsamdros in Wamling and Khisa, earlier owned by people of Tangsibi, are now used by the natives since the reversion of rights,” Zangla said.

Several households from Chumey, owning around 500-1,000 acres of tsamdro each in Trongsa, and Nangkor and Trong gewogs in Zhemgang, are also facing similar problems.

“People from Zhemgang and Trongsa are objecting to the villagers of Chumey from using these tsamdros now after the reversion,” Chumey mangmi, Kezang said.

However, there are no reports of verbal or physical confrontations over the tsamdro disputes. “There have been reports of some minor disputes, but no major physical confrontations ensued among the villagers,” Dorji Wangchuk said.

Meanwhile, Dorji Wangchuk urged the government to expedite whatever solutions it was working out on the issue of tsamdro.

“The government must either pass a strict regulation, with clear directives on who owns the tsamdro rights, or lease it out after compensating its earlier owners,” Dorji Wangchuk said.

Tempa Wangdi