Sephu wins claim to disputed cordyceps collection area

It was also decided that hence harvesting would be restricted to the respective gewogs

Fungus: Following two days of meeting, the home minister, Damcho Dorji, Gasa and Wangdue dzongkhags resolved that the much-disputed area, Metha-Chutha and Yangu, falls under Sephu gewog, Wangdue.

The first meeting was held last week at the home ministry headquarters in Thimphu, and later at the Wangdue’s dzongkhag tshogdu hall on January 26.

Until the meeting resolved the dispute, Lunana gewog has been claiming that the disputed areas, Metha-Chutha and Yangu belonged to them, while villagers from Dangchu gewog had been claiming it as theirs, Wangdue dzongrab Pema said.

According to the map, Metha-Chutha and Yangu, which have rich growth of the fungus, fall between Lunana gewog from Gasa side, and Sephu, Kazhi from the Wangdue’s side.

When officials met last week in Thimphu to resolve the disputed area’s origin, it was found that the disputed area officially belonged to Sephu gewog in Wangdue, said officials.

Officials said it was also decided that, hereafter Lunana gup would not issue permits to his people to collect cordyceps from the disputed area.  Wangdue dzongkhag is also not allowed to issue any permits to their people to collect cordyceps from Lunana (Gasa dzongkhag).

The meeting also decided that the highlanders, who were granted the right to collect cordyceps by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, would collect fungus only from their respective areas, and shouldn’t encroach on other dzongkhags or gewogs, said officials.

Wangdue dzongkhag officials also clarified that, although Lunana gewog alleged that those who encroached Lunana were the people of Wangdue, the encroachers could be from other districts as well.

The dispute arose after Dangchu villagers had been issued permits and were found collecting the fungus in Lunana last year.  Lunana gewog filed a complaint against it, following which Wangdue dzongkhag had to send officials to call the collectors back, said officials.

However, the gewog reasoned that it was done so, as there was an understanding between the two localities earlier, which had agreed that both localities could collect from each other’s jurisdiction.  The practice wasn’t new and has been ongoing for generations.

“Both Lunana and Dangchu local leaders agreed that they did issue permits to collect from each other’s areas earlier,” Wangdue dzongrab, Pema, said.

Lunana gup Gyembo Tshering said, “We’re content with the decision, and we’re hoping to work as per the decision, forgetting prior issues of area encroachment.”

People of Dangchu, who encroached Lunana, claimed that they have highlanders and tsamdro in the disputed area Metha-Chutha and Yangu.

However, forestry officials said, according to the map, Dangchu gewog doesn’t share a boundary with Lunana ,and that it has to cross Kazhi and Sephu gewogs to reach Lunana.  As for tsamdro, officials said that, since 2007, with the Land Act coming into effect, tsamdro has been repealed.

Meanwhile, Dangchu gup Sonam Dorji said the gewog was happy with the decision, but also questioned the land commission on how the gewog’s boundary was surveyed in 1988 and 1989.

He said local elders say that they were not asked about the boundaries during the survey.  Dangchu people claim the disputed area belongs to them, and that they have been staying in Metha-Chutha and Yangu as highlanders for generations.

“However, land commission officials didn’t give us a satisfactory answer and we even raised our doubts on whether the maps were drawn using Google map,” said Dangchu gup.

Cordycep, being one of the main sources of income for highlanders, the issue concerning its collection and area encroachment were raised at the dzongkhag tshogus of both Gasa and Wangdue, last year.

Dawa Gyelmo,  Wangdue

 

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