Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Phuentsholing thromde demolished eight houses at Bhalujhora in Pasakha yesterday.

Thromde officials claimed the structures were illegally constructed on encroached thromde land. The residents of the eight households claimed they bought the land and occupied the area for decades but there were no documents to support that the land belonged to them.

The encroachment issue existed when the area was under Phuentsholing drungkhag and it was considered a thromde area in 2006.

Meanwhile, thromde demolished the house deploying a bulldozer in broad daylight yesterday.

A resident cried in disbelief as she watched the demolition. She claimed she bought the land legally. “I have been staying here since 1985 after buying 14 decimals of land and her mother bought 25 decimals. I also have signed the papers of agreement.”

She also said there were 13 plots in the area and some of them, who bought much later than her obtained lagthram.

She also said she and her family tried all possible means to get the lagthram in the recent years but failed.

Thromde’s deputy chief survey engineer under the land and survey division, Sonam Tobgay, said thromde had to do this after series of notifications to the settlers.

“We have given them at least 12 notifications to vacate the land since 2012,” he said. “They are illegal settlers here.”

Sonam Tobgay also said that many others who had occupied in the area had left after they were notified to leave. “The eight households continued to stay.”

The survey engineer explained that the settlers had appealed to officials whenever national surveys were done. But none of the surveys could find registration and lagthrams. “There is no record at all.”

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said thromde had done the demolition as per the guiding rules. It was also done after a series of requests to vacate.

“It was a case of encroachment,” he said.

Thrompon also explained they had allowed the settlers a six months’ lease time from June to November this year. The illegal occupiers had also signed that lease agreement.

There are also similar illegal settlers in the town area, Uttar Kumar Rai said. “We will demolish those structures too. We have already notified the residents.”

He said the thromde has plans to use the area to improve the township.

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing thromde has several plans for the empty space at Bhalujhora. A commercial space would be established, which would enable Pasakha residents to shop without having to travel to Phuentsholing. A dry port would also be established near the area.