The decision to include Pam village under the thromde has left the residents dejected.
Despite a petition submitted to the dzongkhag last year pleading not to include the village under the town’s extended boundary, there has been no positive response from the dzongkhag.
On January 23, during a review meeting on the dzongkhag’s structure plan (2009-2029), the villagers requested the dzongkhag to reconsider the decision.
Chazam Pam Tshogpa, Galay Wangchuk, said that given the villager solely depended on agriculture and livestock activities, people were not ready to be a part of the thromde. “If we come under the thromde, even to construct a cowshed would require us to route through the municipal procedures, which we would be difficult.”
Galay Wangchuk said that when the village was under the gewog administration things were easier. “Since we came under the thromde, construction works have been suspended in the village. All the raw materials are ready but the municipal has suspended all construction works.”
Pam was included under the town’s extended boundary last year for the thromde elections since the existing town of Mithidrang did not meet the requirements.
The new extended town includes Melphey, Kheri, Pam, and Chenary. The total area was increased from 133.44 acres to 622.9 acres with the extension of the boundary.
However, the Supreme Court issued a writ barring the elections as it contravened the provisions of the Constitution.
Currently, Pam remains under Samkhar gewog.
A resident, Dhendup, said that villagers are in dilemma weather the village is under the thromde or the gewog. “At times we are asked by the gewog to follow their orders and sometimes it is the municipal who authorises our activities.”
According to the petition signed by 59 villagers from Pam, Kheri and Chenary, the people didn’t have enough time to consider the pros and cons of the village coming under the thromde.
The petition stated that while there was not much benefit, the village could lose rural subsidies by being under the thromde.
Currently, Pam is eligible for subsidised timber, boulders and sand and free 100 units electricity among others.
“Once under the thromde, several taxes would be imposed and it would be difficult for villagers to bear all those taxes,” said another resident.
According to the villagers, paying urban land tax as per the thromde rules would prove taxing since most hold acres of land. “Ultimately people would have to sell their lands or either construct buildings which doesn’t go well with the limited number of tenants living in the area.”
Municipal officials said that although the village is under the thromde, villagers will not be imposed any urban tax and can continue with the same agricultural activities that are practised currently. He added that the construction moratorium would take sometime to be lifted since the structural plan is presently under review phase. “Construction activities are temporarily stopped not only in Pam but also in places like Melphey and all other places that are included in the extended boundary of the town.”
Trashigang Dzongda Chekey Gyeltshen said that there is little the dzongkhag could do about the request since the thromde was endorsed by the Parliament.
“Many of us were not even consulted when they decided to put the village under the thromde,” said a resident who didn’t want to be named. “Given an opportunity every household in the village is willing to vote against this decision now.”
He said that they would request the next government, whoever comes into power to reconsider the decision. “This would be one of our key expectation from the next government.”
Younten Tshedup | Trashigang