Investigation into Gyelpozhing Township Plots Allotment

Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)

Government acquired 81.98 acres of land from 71 households of Drepong, Wangling, Ngatshang and Saling Gewogs for the Kurichu Hydropower Project (KHP) and the higher secondary school in 1990s.

His Majesty, the 4th King issued 9 Commands and Kashos on land from August 1980 to January 2003. His Majesty had commanded with a sense of urgency and deep concern that land being a scarce resource, must be safeguarded and managed well for the future generations. All the Commands reiterated that only His Majesty the King shall grant land to His subjects.

The investigation commenced on 20 September 2011. Kashos, laws, rules, criteria and procedures on land in general and plots allotment in particular were examined. 3 field visits were made. Several physical verifications of the plots were conducted jointly with officials from the Municipal Corporation, Monggar. Past plots allotment in Khuruthang and Monggar towns were studied. Over 121 people were interviewed/interrogated.

The determining criteria for plots allotment in townships were (as deduced from the Kashos and the circular of the then Secretary of Ministry of Social Services):

  1. General preference in plots allotment to be given to residents of townships;
  2. Those individuals residing in townships must own a legal business;
  3. Those individuals owning legal businesses themselves must be operating the businesses; and
  4. One family one plot irrespective of the number of licenses they possess. Lottery was only a procedure for plots allotment.

The efficacy of the criteria developed was put to test in Khuruthang and Monggar towns in 1996 and 1998. The set procedure was:

  1. Preparation of eligible list of recipients by Dzongkhag Committee,
  2. scrutiny of the list by the competent ministry,
  3. submission of the list to His Majesty by the competent authority and
  4. distribution of plots to eligible recipients only on receiving the Royal Consent.

Investigation revealed that of the 99 plots allotted, 67 (14.12 acres) were illegal. Genja terms and conditions, signed between the local authority and the plot beneficiaries, were not enforced.

The Plots Allotment Committee undermined the rule of law and the principle of due diligence, fairness, equity, transparency and check and balance. Most of the members acquired plots in the names of their spouses/relatives, while people who lost their land for the township development were deprived of land even upon repeated request to the Dzongdags.

The case was forwarded to the Office of Attorney General on August 31, 2012.

 

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Source: The Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan

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This story from Sonam Pem

Sonam Pem has the distinction of being our very first author on Bhutanomics.

Comments

  1. Will the OAG have enough guts to compliment the good work done by the ACC? Can the Attorney General, a civil servant, rise up to the task, and put away the PM and Speaker amongst others?

    I hope so. My prayers are with you. The whole nation is with you on this.

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