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Conflict: It has been a long battle for some people of Nemjo in Paro.

The residents have been running to the gewog, dzongkhag and Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) office in Thimphu for the last three years, to stop the operation of a nightclub in their area.

The residents have lodged five complaints so far. The last complaint addressed to the director general of BICMA on October 26, 2016, questioned how BICMA permitted the nightclub to operate in the area.

The complaint letter states that residents have been objecting to the nightclub’s presence in their locality when they learnt that a building, which was under construction was to be used by the nightclub. They lodged a complaint to the gewog stating that the nightclub, as a night entertainment activity, would disturb the villagers and create problems.

It is stated that the nightclub, which was operated in the town, was shifted to Nemjo last year but the dzongkhag entertainment licensing committee (DELC) suspended its operation after people complained and the media highlighted the issue.

Residents complained that earlier this year, the DELC recommended that a licence be granted to the nightclub’s operator but after residents approached BICMA the authority turned down the application. “But after a few months, the dzongkhag again recommended BICMA to issue the license and BICMA acted accordingly.”

Residents said that DELC did not consult everyone in the village population but only those who would be least affected by the nightclub.

The complaint letter questioned how DELC evaluated and approved the proposal for the nightclub when there are rules in place that require the community’s prior clearance.

The residents contend that issuing the license was against the BICMA Act, which clearly states that operating a nightclub will not be allowed in rural and residential areas. Nemjo, which is 1.5kms away from Paro town, does not fall under the thromde.

The letter, signed by 10 people, also claims that there are people suffering from diseases and that the noise caused by the club is contributing to their health conditions further deteriorating. It is alleged that the nightclub is not sound proofed.

The complaint letter also mentions that the 82nd Paro dzongkhag tshogdu resolved that the dzongkhag will not entertain any more entertainment licenses. The complainants point out that the DELC is going all out to support the issuance of the license to the club. “This clearly depicts that the dzongkhag officials are favouring the club owner.”

A Paro resident, who has knowledge about the issue, said it is not clear how BICMA issued the license again when they know its operation is against their own rules, which states that such entertainment businesses will not be allowed in a residential area without approval from the community. “Both dzongkhag and BICMA officials know that people are affected but no one cares about that.”

BICMA director Chencho Dorji said that the license was issued since the dzongkhag provided the clearance. He said that the entertainment licensing policy is decentralised and it is the dzongkhag’s decision to approve it or not.

It has also been learnt that BICMA asked Paro dzongkhag officials to investigate the matter and the dzongkhag is investigating the gravity of the complaint.

It was also learnt that the dzongkhag statistical officer and dzongkhag agriculture officer were leading the investigation  team. While the dzongkhag statistical officer said he is out of station and does not know the latest update, the agriculture officer hung up when he learnt the call was from Kuensel.

The proprietor of the nightclub was not available for comment.

Tashi Dema

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