However, the summer session of the Parliament will re-deliberate the Paro dzongkhag thromde issue 

Joint sitting: As proposed by the special committee of the Parliament, the joint sitting yesterday endorsed Betekha in Naja gewog as Paro’s yenlag thromde and Denchi and Nganglam as Pemagtshel’s dzongkhag and yenlag thromdes respectively.

The committee also recommended that the government in consultation with the Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdu table the Paro dzongkhag thromde issue in the next joint sitting of the Parliament. The Speaker shall instruct the Election Commission of Bhutan to defer the 2016 Local Government (LG) election for Paro Dzongkhag.

The 12 member special committee comprised five members from the National Council and seven from the National Assembly including three members from the opposition.

Of the 67 members present, 66 voted “yes” for Betekha while one abstained. For Denchi, 64 members voted “yes”, two voted “no” and one abstained. All 67 members voted “yes” for Nganglam as Pemagatshel’s yenlag thromde.

For the fourth recommendation to re-deliberate the Paro dzongkhag thromde issue in the next session, 54 voted “yes”, five abstained and six voted “no.”

The special committee chairperson Wangduephodrang’s councilor Tashi Dorji said they discussed several key issues when working on the recommendations. The recommendations, he said, were based on the need to enhance balanced development within different gewogs and chiwogs and that nearby townships could be merged with the existing dzongkhag thromde or yenlag thromdes.

Tashi Dorji said discussions also focused on the need to uphold the ideology and principle of decentralization by the Parliament and the Constitutional provision to approve more than one yenlag thromde in a dzongkhag.

“The Opposition party submits to propose Jitsiphu along with Betekha as the second yenlag thromde for Paro,” he said, when presenting the proposal.

Following the endorsement of the recommendations, National Council’s chairperson Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga said the Parliament seeking deferment of the 2016 Local Government (LG) elections in Paro could have legal implications.

He said LG elections have to be conducted within a stipulated time frame in line with the Election and the LG Acts. “For the Parliament to issue such directives, both the Acts have to be amended,” he said.

He said he is not against Paro dzongkhag thromde but reminded the house that once a boundary is declared, it cannot be altered for the next 10 years in line with the Constitution.

South Thimphu representative Yeshey Zimba said although Jitsiphu could not be endorsed, he was happy that Betekha has been approved since it has potential as a yenlag thromde considering the population and the area.

Likewise, he said people raised the issue of the Paro dzongkhag thromde boundary following several meetings. “It’s good that the Parliament will be able to discuss it again,” he said.

Works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden in her concluding remarks thanked the members for their support.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said developing the boundaries for thromdes is not an easy task although some members have raised the issue of inconsistency in boundary demarcation.

“People are of the opinion that the government’s priority would be to only develop areas that fall under thromdes and avoid the rural areas,” lyonpo said, adding that it also becomes the responsibility of each member to make people understand.

“Irrespective of where people reside, all are Bhutanese citizens and we must serve them equally,” lyonpo said.

Expressing satisfaction with the voting results, Speaker Jigme Zangpo said that for once he thought the members might have made a mistake.

“Such 100 percent voting for a positive outcome couldn’t have happened in any of the Parliaments in the world,” he said.

While all members come from different parties, have different ideologies and think differently, the Speaker said they all must come to a consensus in the larger interest of the nation.

The Speaker also said the voting results would be one of his biggest achievements in his tenure as the Speaker to date. “I’ve no reasons to take side,” he said, adding he was initially worried that if the House failed to come to a consensus, they would be failing their duties in fulfilling the needs of the King, the people and the nation.

By Kinga Dema