Land: Questions are being raised in Pemagatshel on the delay to relocate the town to Denchi.

It has been more than a decade since the intention to relocate the present town to Denchi, 18km away, was announced.

And now with Denchi already declared a dzongkhag thromde and demarcated, residents said the dzongkhag administration should start allocating plots.

The town’s secretary Jigyel Phuntsho said residents are confused why the relocation is being held up and where the plan has reached. “Delimitation has already been completed. They should simultaneously allot the plots so that people can start construction and the town can start taking shape,” he said. “But that’s not happening. When is the town supposed to shift?” he said.

A total of 49 plots have been already demarcated on the 113.50 acres of Denchi Thromde, which will be allotted as commercial and residential areas to the people of Denchi, Pemagatshel and Khothakpa.

The present town that was established since the 1980s is a cluster of settlements; mostly grocery shops and restaurants located along a road.

However, the area has been found to be unstable, congested, and too small for expansion.

He added that most of the shops are semi-permanent structures and are restricted from renting out space. Renovations are also not allowed as the structures are on the government land. There are around a hundred shops.

“The new dzong is scheduled to be completed by 2018. All the civil servants will shift to Denchi and they are the main customers so we should shift the town before they do,” Jigyel Phuntsho said. “We’re also worried about the land price because since the price would be based on PAVA rate as per the Land Act, it will increase every three years and we may not be able to afford the prices later.”

There are also concerns that only two-storey houses will be allowed.

The town’s secretary said that the prime minister recently said the residents should take the opportunity and provide housing to address the current crunch. He pointed out that if one storey is used for business, and the other as residence, then there would be no space to rent out.

He said at least three or four-storey buildings should be allowed.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag’s land record officer, Wangdi said there are many activities that needs to completed before allotting the land like clearing forest and land acquisition, among others.

“The debate on the finalisation of the Dzongkhag Thromde also delayed the work. But we are definitely following up with the land commission and allotment would be done soon,” he said.

Dzongdag Phuntsho said the land commission has approved the relocation of the town. Thrams would be issued soon. He added that for now allotment for 22 houses has been approved.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Pemagatshel