Land: Much to the relief of highlanders and those who depend on livestock, the agriculture ministry has started leasing tsamdros (pastureland) and sokshings (leaf litter collection).

At the 16th meet the press session yesterday, agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji, said that the lease implementation is currently being carried out in Punakha dzongkhag.

With the enactment of the Land Act 2007, tsamdros and sokshings were nationalised and reverted into national reserve forests.  However, the government was yet to compensate any of the farmers who owned tsamdros and sokshings.

According to the Land Act 2007, an individual household or community owning livestock is eligible to lease the reverted tsamdro.  While leasing tsamdro, preference will be given to previous rights holders and communities.

“Compensation programme will be completed within a week in Punakha,” lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said. “Ten more dzongkhags have been identified in the next phase.”

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said, the government feels that leasing tsamdros and sokshings was important because almost 40 percent of the Bhutanese population depended upon it, especially highlanders.

Tsamdros is leased based on herd size. Highlanders, who are directly dependent on tsamdro, may retain their tsamdro rights under lease, irrespective of possession of livestock and their herd size.

The lease for highlanders will be for a period not less than 30 years.  That could, however, extend.

Sokshing will be leased to those, who have agricultural land.  It can be leased to individual as well as to community bases, and preference will be given to previous rights holders

 By Nirmala Pokhrel