Land: Beginning this month 12 dzongkhag administrations will start compensating former tsamdro owners before leasing them in the next fiscal year.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji said that after the successful pilot project of paying compensation to tsamdro owners in Punakha, the ministry is now ready to go nationwide.

“We have planned to complete paying compensation by the end of this fiscal,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji.

A committee comprising of members from National Land Commission and agriculture ministry sensitised the local government officials about the guidelines on compensation and leasing tsamdro a week ago.

The ministry will release the compensation amount to the livestock officers in the dzongkhags who will pay the former owners.

The ministry’s tsamdro coordinator, Jigme Wangdi, said the rate is fixed as per the 1996 land compensation rates.

“For every acre of tsamdro, the government will pay Nu 200,” he said.

Starting next month, Chukha, Dagana, Lhuentse, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Samtse, Sarpang, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Tsirang and Zhemgang dzongkhags will start compensation payments.

“In this phase, we are targeting southern and eastern districts. We are paying about Nu 82.14 million in compensation,” Jigme Wangdi added.

The Land Act 2007 allows deletion of rights, reverting sokshing and tsamdro to government, payment of compensation to owners and leasing of reverted tsamdros and sokshing 10 years after enactment of the law.

Agriculture officials said the purpose is to achieve equitable distribution of resources.

“Families rearing livestock without tsamdro land were at the mercy of others who own tsamdro and have no livestock,” an agriculture official said. “They had to pay certain rent whether in terms of cash or kind.”

In March 2009, the former Prime Minister issued an executive order for the temporary suspension of thram transfers of sokshing and tsamdro. The suspension was to continue until Parliament approved a review of the Land Act, which did not occur.

A total of 5,422 tsamdros measuring 1.31 million acres have been nationalised with the implementation of the Land Act 2007. Compensation costs the government about Nu 262 million.

Almost 40 percent of the Bhutanese population depends upon grazing land, especially highlanders.

Tsamdro leasing will begin only after the completion of the compensation process.

The lease of the land will be done systematically based on herd and livestock department’s estimates of grazing land livestock require.

The lease for farmers will be given for a fixed period but the size would vary depending on the livestock size the individual farmers have which livestock officials will review annually.

Tshering Palden