NA favours compensating affected landowners

Phub Dem

The National Assembly with majority votes yesterday supported the motion to provide land substitution or monetary compensation to affected landowners whose land fell in the red or Green zone.

The House, however, denied two recommendations.

MP for Chumig-Ura, Karma Wangchuk, who moved the motion on Red and Green zone in dzongkhag thromde proposed three recommendations: establishing a high-level legal expert committee to identify dzongkhag thromde and yenglag (satellite towns) thromde; to permit land owners to carry out development on the lands which fall in the urban Green and Red zone at their own risk; and proposing the government to provide land substitution or compensation to landowners whose lands fell in the Green and Red Zone.

He said that despite plans and programmes for balanced regional development, the outcome had not been successful.

This, he said, was due to the zoning of urban areas because Red and Green zone restricted the landowners from developmental activities and construction of houses. “The zoning has caused major problems to the people.”

Green zones are a designated area in which there should not be any constructions or excavations, whereas Red zones are areas that have higher risk and vulnerability to increasing exposure to disasters.

MP for Athang-Thedtsho, Kinley Wangchuk, said that although there was a huge potential for the development of towns and water world near Punatshangchu, no development activities could take place because of Red zone.

Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said that instead of restricting developmental activities the government could plan resilient strategies to address the problem. “Government should encourage strategies such as advanced warning system because disasters are unpredictable,” he said.

On whether to establish a high-level legal expert committee to identify dzongkhag thromde and yenglag thromde, some members argued that as per the Supreme Court (SC) order, the establishment of the committee was required to review and harmonies the conflicting laws related to thromde.

The SC in its Writ on the declaration of 16 dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromdes directed the former government to review the issue by instituting a high-level experts committee.

According to members, the judicial intervention was required due to contradictory provisions of Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) Act and Local Government (LG) Act with the constitutional provisions.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that the development of dzongkgag thromde depended on the economic scenario of the country. He said that the SC order to defer the development of dzongkhag thromde was temporary because it was not viable to develop 20 dzongkhag thromde as proposed by the then government.  

The House also debated on issues such as lack of public consultation with landowners during the identification of zones.

MP for Lamgong-Wangchag Ugyen Tsheing said that the landowners had no appreciation for the zone mapping because there was no consultation with them.

Many MPs were of the view that it was important to understand the purpose and requirement for the identification of the zones. 

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