The National Assembly on June 4 passed three resolutions on issues regarding the right of way (RoW) in construction of high voltage transmission lines for immediate implementation.

The first resolution calls on the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) or a relevant agency to frame a policy, guidelines, rules and regulations on construction of transmission lines.

The second states that private land in rural areas should not be encroached for construction of such transmission lines and that the land should be substituted or compensated if at all private land has to be acquired.

The third states that the aesthetics of the landscape should not be compromised by the construction of transmission lines.

Draagteng-Langthil MP Gyem Dorji moved the motion to frame a policy and guidelines for the ROW of transmission lines.

Gyem Dorji said that more than 1,102.074 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines have been constructed in Bhutan and they have mostly affected people in rural settlements.

He said that rural folks were facing challenges in getting clearances for construction of residential houses in their registered land because of nearby transmission lines.

The National Land Commission Secretariat on September 8, 2013, authorised the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) to acquire private land falling under the transmission tower by either by paying compensation to the landowner or on lease.

The affected landowner will be eligible for compensation or land substitution of about 10 decimal land, according to the MP.

“It is not specifically mentioned on the RoW of the transmission line in any document available to date. During the execution of the transmission lines, compensation and land substitution was provided based on the land commission’s notification,” Gyem Dorji said.

According to Bhutan Electricity Authority’s Safety Code of 2008, the minimum approach distance is 8.3metres (m) for 400 kV, 5.5m for 220kV, 4.2m for 132kV, 2.8m for 66kV, 2.1m for 33kV, 1.5m for 11kV and 0.5m for 0.4kV.

However, the MP said that there were no proper and uniform policies and guidelines in place for its implementation.

Lhamoidzingkha MP Hemant Gurung said the issue has been raised time and again by people in his constituency. “People say they are unable to construct houses or plant trees on the land that falls under the right of way. But they have been paying taxes,” he said, adding that the affected people have been requesting for land compensation.

MB Subba