Thromde: The villagers of Pam in Samkhar gewog, Trashigang have submitted a petition to the dzongkhag pleading not to include their village under the thromde.
Pam was included within the town’s extended boundary last year for the thromde elections since the existing Trashigang town of Melphey and Mithidrang did not meet the required population for a thromde.
The new extended town includes areas from Shangshari above Melphey to Kheri and Pam, and Chenari.
However, the Supreme Court issued a writ barring the elections as it contravened the provisions of the Constitution.
Currently, Pam still remains under the gewog going by the Supreme Court’s writ. However, people still wrote to the dzongkhag asking that the village be excluded from the thromde. It has been learnt that even those villagers who earlier supported the idea of including the village in the thromde have withdrawn their support.
“The petition was filed because most of the villagers prefer staying under the rural area,” a villager from Pam, Yonten Samdrup who was one of the villagers in favour of including the village in the thromde said.
The petition states that the dismissal of thromde elections was a blessing in disguise for the villagers of Pam. “People of Pam would urge Dasho to never plan to incorporate our village in the thromde and accordingly the government must also be apprised,” states the petition signed by 59 villagers from Kheri, Chenari and Pam.
The petition also explains that the people didn’t have enough time to consider the pros and cons of being included within the thromde when summoned for a meeting last year. It is added that as a result the village agreed to its inclusion despite most being against the idea.
The petition stated that while there was not much benefit, the village was bound to lose its rural subsidies by being in thromde. Currently, Pam is eligible for subsidised timber, boulders and sand and a free 100 units electricity among others.
By being placed in the thromde, more taxes would have to be paid. According to the villagers, paying urban land tax as per the thromde rules would prove taxing since most hold acres of land. “It will be difficult for most of us to pay land taxes even at the rate of Nu 2,000 per plot especially the poorer villagers,” Yonten Samdrup said.
The villagers also felt that construction of houses for rent would not be viable since even building owners in Melphey are struggling to get tenants with public servants preferring government quarters. “Since the school has its own staff quarters and the police are constructing their own new camp at Phomshing, building owners in Melphey are already worried of not getting enough occupants,” a villager from Tapting, Dhendup Dukpa, said. Most tenants in Melphey are police personnel.
There are also reports of some building owners in Melphey struggling to pay back loans as tenants are unwilling to pay higher rents.
“Unless more regional offices and industries are opened, it would be implausible to think that Pam would have occupants if houses were constructed,” Dhendup Dukpa said.
Most importantly the villagers feared that some of them especially the poor might have to leave their village if they could not build houses or start business once their agricultural lands were converted to commercial plots.
But an official from the Trashigang municipal authority explained that while Pam was included within the extended town’s boundary, no demarcation was carried out. The official added that no local area plan or master plan has been framed either.
However, the official added that since development would eventually lead to Pam being included within the thromde. “The idea is to have a proper developmental plan in place to regulate the road network, sewers and drainage to prevent haphazard constructions,” the official said.
Trashigang dzongdag Cheki Gyeltshen, however, said that there is little the dzongkhag can do about the petition since the thromde was endorsed by Parliament. “We have forwarded it to the government and the works and human settlement ministry,” he said.