Who will pay for the loss?

Nim Dorji | Trongsa


While the land encroachment case between the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and former Trongsa Dzongdag Lhab Dorji is still pending in the High Court, a property on the land in question is getting damaged.

The Viewpoint Resort, built at a cost of about Nu 300M is getting damaged because of neglect arising from the complications surrounding the case and the “freeze notice’ issued by the ACC.

Abandoned after the legal battle, the resort wears a haunted look.  It was closed since 2015 after ACC issued a freeze notice of immovable properties on the land for any transaction.

Without a caretaker, doors of some of the 10 buildings are broken, ceilings are falling off and floors in some rooms have given in. The iron gate of the resort premise is left open. Tyres of heavy vehicles are seen on the rough road leading to the resort. The road is filled with potholes.

The entrance of the main building, where the conference hall, kitchen and dining rooms are located, is almost covered with bushes. Leaves and debris cover the footpath leading to the rooms, which are also damaged.

The streetlights are broken. Pipes of fire extinguishers are missing and mini fire extinguishers are rusted.

The concrete structures of the swimming pool are broken and covered with bushes. New furniture piled in the rooms and outside once readied to furnish the resort are getting damaged.

While vandalism was not reported, there are rumours that some furniture and mattresses from the resort are seen in houses in the locality.

Police in Trongsa arrested three Indian labourers of Nikachu Hydro Power in December last year alleged for stealing things from the resort.

Since the business came to a standstill, picnickers have left pet bottles and other waste in the archery range above the resort. The upper side of the archery range is almost excavated from sand extraction.

During the court case, Lhab Dorji and his wife Karma Tshetim Dolma submitted before the court that the resort has a total outstanding loan is Nu 292,487,837 and outstanding insurance premium of Nu 2,884,389.85.

They also submitted that the resort was supposed to be sold to Tangsibji Hydro Energy Limited for Nu 306M but they could not sell after the ACC notice.

ACC, on the other hand, submitted that they issued a freeze notice of the land but did not ask the owners to close the resort.

Trongsa court ordered the resort owners to restitute the 4.73 acres of land on which the resort was constructed to the government.

The Court also directed ACC to approach the government in consultation with the National Land Commission to discuss if the government would be interested to acquire the resort at the rate to be finalised by the relevant agencies of the government. “If the government is not interested in acquiring it, defendant Karma Tshetim Dolma should demolish it,” the court stated.

Property owners said that the ACC imposed a freeze notice on the resort five years ago, April 3, 2015. “Since section 104 and 107 of the ACC Act are explicit and prohibits the owner to enter into any transaction or operations of the resort, the responsibility of care lies with the ACC in accordance with their Act,” Lhab Dorji said.

Will ACC be responsible for the loss? Will the government compensate the loss? Will all depend on what the High Court decides?