… particularly with respect to timber requirements for lhakhang renovation

Assembly: The National Assembly yesterday directed the ministry of agriculture and forests to disseminate information on the provisions of the Forest Act and related laws for better understanding of the people, and research on how to go about the issue of timber for lhakhang renovation, and for constructing houses for summer and winter.

This was the resolution for the petition submitted by the Nubi-Tangsibji MP Nidup Zangpo and Nyisho-Sephu’s representative Kuenga to the National Assembly yesterday.

MP Nidup Zangpo submitted to the house the need to issue timber for the renovation of lhakhangs in villages, regardless of the presence of roads.  He also submitted that if a better system was instituted for obtaining good quality timber from the Natural Resources Development corporation limited (NRDCL).

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said the timber was provided as per the Forest and Nature Conservation Rules of Bhutan, 2006, and the building and renovation of the monuments in the country was included in the Act.  He said that the problem was not the scarcity of timber but wanting it at a subsidised rate.

Lyonpo said it was also important to consider the effects of cutting trees and destroying forests.  In some villages, lyonpo said, there were no NRDCL offices and, in such cases, timber could be extracted from the community forests for construction of lhakhangs, in consultation with the department of forest and park services.

“Applications were received for the renovation of about five lhakhangs in Trongsa last year and all were granted the permit for extraction of timber,” lyonpo said. “All applications forwarded by the home ministry to the agriculture ministry were all given the permit to extract timber for renovation of lhakhangs.”

Last year, the ministry received applications for building and renovating of about 78 lhakhangs from all the dzongkhags, and almost all were granted the permit to extract about 200,000cft of timber from nearby areas.

Only 18 out of the 78 lhakhangs were asked to get timber from NRDCL, said the minister.

The agriculture minister informed the house that a minimum of 20 acres of land in all dzongkhags would be used for plantation of trees to address timber issues in future.  About 299 acres of land in the country have been identified for the purpose.

On behalf of the people of Wangduephodrang, Nyisho-Sephu’s representative Kuenga submitted that building two houses, one for winter and one for summer, has been a tradition.  However, as per rural house construction rules, entitlement of timber was only for constructing one house, and that the people have appealed to the government to look into the matter.

The house acknowledged the importance of providing timber for construction of two houses, as per tradition, and submissions were made that others may also make similar requests, which cannot be denied if such a system was put in place.

It was resolved that the agriculture ministry should initiate an assessment of these two issues.

By Dechen Tshomo