Yangyel Lhaden 

Thimphu thromde is conducting an inspection and so far, it has found 131 buildings that have either deviated from the initially approved drawings or were unauthorised projects.

Thromde officials have been inspecting for unauthorised construction projects or deviations from approved drawings since November 7. It is expected to be completed in the next two months.

The inspection team found the most common unauthorised structures were built in the setback beyond the permissible coverage made from corrugated galvanised iron (CGI) sheets, wooden structures, bricks, and rammed earth.

A thromde official said that the structures were temporary or semi-permanent, and used for various purposes such as stores, residential houses, commercial activities, and production. “Unauthorised structures compromise the free space and increase the risk of hazards such as fires, spoil the aesthetic of the building, subvert drainage systems, and compromise parking spaces.”

The defaulters were issued notices for deviation or unauthorised construction and given 60 days to remove or rectify them, and to seek proper approval if it is permissible within the building regulations.

The inspection team imposed nine house owners with a penalty of Nu 20,000 each for constructing structures without approval from the thromde office. “Some structures were constructed from CGI sheets and plywood in the setback.”

The official said that these practices have been going on for years. “After completion of scanning the whole of Thimphu thromde, we’ll follow up with plot or building owners who were served the first notices.”

According to the official, building owners failing to clear unauthorised structures within 60 days will be dealt with as per the Development Control Regulation (DCR) 2016. “Penalties might include withholding the occupancy certificate for the building and other service clearances.”

The official said that the thromde’s main objective is to clear unauthorised construction and regulate any developments. “It is not to threaten the building owners by depriving them of basic services.”

He said that most plot or building owners were supportive. “But if there are defaulters who fail to cooperate despite the public notification, individual notices, and prerequisite actions, thromde management will not hesitate to take action such as mobilising the demolition squad.”

The official said that the thromde office will continue team inspection and serving penalties even after completing the inspection of the entire city.

“If the thromde can clear all unauthorised and unsightly construction in the setback built over the years, it will be easier to stop new deviation or unauthorised construction,” the official said.

The thromde office is going to further review the monitoring process for unauthorised construction in the city. “Additional mechanisms to monitor the situation are to check unauthorised construction during occupancy certificate renewals and property transactions, and further link other services so that building or plot owners will take full responsibility for any developments with proper approval,” the official said.