… as their land falls on both sides of the boundary which would mean they would be paying both rural and urban taxes

Boundary: Villagers of Thangchu Gonpa have once again appealed to Phuntshothang gewog if Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag administration could opt for another area instead of their chiwog to be a part of the yenlag thromde.

This was in response to the dzongkhag administration’s recent letter to the Samdrupcholing dungkhag wherein the villagers were informed that the yenlag thromde has been already endorsed by parliament.

The letter, in response to a petition submitted by the villagers, also said the dzongkhag cannot revoke the Parliament’s decision and that Thangchu Gonpa would still be demarcated under the yenlag thromde as proposed.

The villagers had earlier submitted a petition signed by 58 households to the Samdrupcholing (earlier Bangtar) dungkhag, not to be a part of the yenlag thromde.

The villagers had said that each household had 50 decimals of their five acres within the thromde boundary, but the remaining would remain in the rural side, which means they will have to pay both rural and urban taxes.

The villagers requested that either their land be removed from the thromde boundary or that their entire five acres be demarcated as urban.

The dungkhag officials led by Dungpa Lobzang Dorji called a gathering and informed the villagers of the decision but the villagers refused to agree, the dungpa said.

Tshogpa Jigme Tenzin said since their earlier petition to demarcate the entire land as urban did not succeed, the villagers decided they would request the dzongkhag to at least leave out their chiwog and demarcate from another area near the present dungkhag bazaar, located about three kilometres from the chiwog.

He said there is plenty of land available beyond the bazaar and the chiwog should be left as it is.

“The first thing is we were not even informed the chiwog would come under the thromde, even the gewog officials were unaware,” he said, adding they became aware only after they received voter cards.

This, he said, came as a surprise for many and when enquired, the gewog officials informed they did not demarcate the chiwog as urban and that’s when they raised the issue.

“At least they could have informed us or clarified our doubts this time, but only a letter was sent through the dungkhag,” the tshogpa said. “Few years ago, a few villages including Thangchu Gonpa were kept as an option if the town planning needed an expansion in future but it was never put in as urban.”

He said villagers are still confused because as per their voter cards, they can participate only in the thromde theumi election because 50 decimals of their land is a part of the yenlag thromde, but they cannot participate in local government election when their 4.5 acres of land is still considered rural.

“There were a few who had aspired to contest for local government elections but now they are confused, which we feel officials should explain,” he said. “We don’t have any means to earn income other than few vegetables and betel nuts, how’re we going to pay two land taxes or construct infrastructure.”

The other reason he cited was they feared they would be deprived of rural facilities.

A majority of these villagers comprise of resettled retired soldiers. The Fourth Druk Gyalpo had granted land kidu in 1992. Although, each house is constructed on the 50-decimal land, the rest of the land is located a few metres from Thangchu Gonpa and not included within the thromde boundary.

The villagers are waiting for their second petition to the dungkhag. However, the dungkhag is yet to receive the petition from the gewog.

Phuntshothang gup Sangay said although the office knows about the yenlag thromde mapping issue, there was no mention of Thangchu Gonpa. They too came to know about the issue following the issuance of voter cards.

Meanwhile, dzongkhag engineer Pelden Norgay said the ministry, using Google Maps, did the mapping that mandated all institutions to be within the thromde boundary. Therefore, Thangchu Gonpa by default fell under the thromde because it is located between the dungkhag office and Samdrupcholing market.

“Now that it has already been approved by the Parliament at National level, dzongkhag doesn’t have authority to change the decision. They should not worry because unless the urban facilities have reached, they will not have to pay the tax nor will the government take their entire land for pooling.”

Samdrupcholing is 67km from Samdrupjongkhar.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar