NC Q-Hour: It’s mandatory by law to maintain a space of 50 feet on either sides of the highway as per the road right of way for highways, works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden said during a question hour at the National Council (NC) yesterday.

Lyonpo was responding to a query raised by Trongsa’s NC member, Tharchen, on the lack of uniformity in the implementation of the road right of way in different dzongkhags.

Tharchen said that, without proper road policy guidelines in place, most local government and dzongkhag administration enforced the 50 feet requirement as right of way for all categories of roads besides the highways.  He said, this deprived many rural people from constructing houses even by the side of farm roads and district roads.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that for structures built before the Road Act was passed, they were allowed to be retained, and that people were permitted to cultivate the land within 50 feet on either side of the road.

On the farm roads, lyonpo said that, since there was no clear distance from the centreline for dzongkhag and farm roads, it was proposed in the new rules and regulations to have a distance of 30 feet for dzongkhag roads, and 20 feet for farm roads.

She said that the right of way for farm roads was proposed as a guideline, since the right to construct farm roads lay with the local governments.  Lyonpo added that the reason to maintain a minimum distance as the right of way was to help in future expansion and maintenance of the road.

The minister pointed out that the government did not have the means to give land or cash compensations for the affected land or structures along the highways.  She said payment of such compensations would be considered, as and when road widening took place.  She informed the house that, whenever land problems arose due to road widening, matters were referred to the land commission for appropriate action.

By Younten Tshedup