Lhakpa Quendren 

Gelephu —Ten out of the 12 gewogs in Sarpang are designated for the ambitious Gelephu Mindfulness City development. The groundbreaking ceremonies (salhang tendrel) were recently conducted, coinciding with the Gelephu International Airport ceremony.  

The ceremonies in these gewogs were conducted earlier, as there are no auspicious days in the coming months. 

Except for the two distant gewogs, Jigmecholing (Suray) and Chhudzom (Doban), the designated gewogs are those in the plains—Tareythang, Umling, Chhuzagang, Serzhong, Gelephu, Samtenling, Dekiling, Shompangkha, Gakiling, and Singye.   

There is no specific preparation for development activities at the gewog level, apart from submitting the accounts for valuable trees to the Sarpang dzongkhag administration. The valuable trees include areca nut, agarwood, teak, citrus trees, cardamom, and fruit trees. 

Gakiling Gup Nim Dorji Sherpa said that the accounts were submitted following the instructions from the dzongkhag administration. “We collected the accounts from all landholders by reaching out to them individually, including those who were not at their location.”  

While residents are excited about the upcoming development initiative, a lack of awareness regarding private properties in Sarpang has left some landlords feeling anxious. For instance, some landlords fear losing their entire land to the project.

“We have received assurances that our properties will not be affected, and private land acquisition will be minimal. But as we await the project details, there is a need for sufficient advocacy to help us stay mentally prepared,” said a landlord in Gelephu. 

On the other hand, Gup Nim Dorji said that landlords who understand the project’s long-term benefits express a desire for their land to be included for the development activities. “We have been providing them with information to resolve any doubts they may have.”

There has been an instance where a Member of Parliament to the National Council informed a Thimphu resident who owns land in Sarpang that the land acquisition compensation would be provided based on the government rate.

Sarpang Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizin and Serzhong Gup, Tshering, said that residents and landlords remain excited about the development. “We are fortunate to have this ambitious project here. His Majesty has repeatedly assured us that the project will not affect the people.”

Urging landlords living away from Sarpang to reach out to their respective local leaders, he said, “When we encounter people expressing concerns, we take the time to explain to them what we know about the situation. We also use meetings as an opportunity to inform them.”

Sources indicate that private land acquisition would be limited to those lands falling under road and airport constructions. The compensation will be based on international practices, and land replacement will be provided within the city area.

In light of the construction moratorium in Sarpang since April, no new activities are being implemented, but the ongoing projects are continuing. The gewogs will prioritise the development of farm roads and irrigation channels in the 13th Plan.