Residents unhappy with Paro valley development project

Phub Dem | Paro

Paro Valley Development Project (PVDP), three years after it was launched, has left residents disappointed.

PVDP is a 20-year development and land use plan for the preservation of cultural landscape, topography, surface hydrology, and natural environment and existing settlement pattern.

The recent Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdu discussed the significant challenge facing the residents since the commencement of the project.

With developmental activities such as airport area expansion and the city development projects Wangchang Gup Kuenzang Rinzin said that with limited dry land there was a restriction on developmental activities in the gewog.

He said that with an increase in population in Paro, locals requested the leaders to increase their home structure to three-storey.

Lamgong Gup Gem Tshering said that the limited dry land fell in a green zone where construction of any sort is restricted.

He said that the identification of green zones was confusing and some residents’ land, near road points and feasible for construction fell in environmentally sensitive zones.

“We do not know how the project was developed. Planning from a desktop is causing lots of problems while the plan is implemented,” Kuenzang Rinzin said.

For instance, a resident who owns only ten decimals of dry land in Wangchang Gewog has invested in drawing maps and loans to build a house, but later it was found that half of the land lies in the green zone.

“It is a hassle for the villagers,” he said.

Kuenzang Rinzin said that the officials must develop the plan studying ground reality rather than through google map.

Paro’s DT Thrizin, Tshering Dorji, said that there was a concern regarding the ceiling of the number of storeys because of limited dry land.

He said that residents wanted to build up to three-storey on that limited land as an alternative source of income.

He added that there were no clear directives on land substitution for those households who hold only Chu-shing. “Although there are previsions for land substitution to those households whose dry landfalls in green zones, there are significant issues while implementing it.”

Some residents are of the view that even if they violate the rule, they can pay a minimal fine and build what they desire.

Tshering Dorji said that the current government, however, asked the dzongkhag to implement the project. “This is where lots of disagreements arise, as new developments are restricted in the same area where lots of buildings were built when the government lifted the restriction.”

The construction of the dzongkhag court is on hold, as it falls in the green zone.

According to Tshering Dorji, the location of court in the green zone was surprising as there are many private structures and Royal Bhutan Police station near the court area.

Development Regulatory Officer of Paro, Phub Lham Tamang, said that Ministry of Work and Human Settlement (MoWHS) was only revising the agriculture precinct in the plan as there were lots of issues with that precinct.

Although the local leaders were recommending revising the whole plan, she said that it would depend on the department and planning perspective.

The Department of Human Settlement sent a letter to the dzongkhag earlier this year stating that they would review and rationalise the PVDP in this fiscal year given numerous appeals regarding land conversion and precinct designating during the implementation of the plan.

DT passed a resolution to request the government and MoWHS to relook at the project.

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