Nganglam Land Issues

Nganglam / Rinchenthang, Pemagatshel
The Anti Corruption Commission is investigating conversion of government land into private property, irregular land compensation and inconsistencies in land holdings in Rinchenthang, where more than 400 acres have been identified to establish a town in Nganglam, Pemagatshel.

There are numerous other allegations on manipulation of land records, bribery, illegal transfer of land ownership from rural to nearby township and reduction in the size of land owned by the poorer sections of society.

In a complaint letter jointly signed and submitted to the commission by 51 households, who lost 74.43 acres to Manas National Wildlife Park and were not given land substitute, they alleged that a senior surveyor from national land commission in collusion with the former gup surveyed 100 acres of government reserved forest land in Potanala and illegally registered 20 acres each in the name of their relatives. They also alleged that the surveyor paid Nu 500,000 to the land commission for acquiring government land.

According to the letter, both surveyor and former gup, then allegedly transferred their government land in Potanala to a prime area nearby in Rinchenthang, the location of Nganglam town.

The 51 households also alleged that some people were given land in the prime area even though their rural land did not fall under land pooling for the new township while those who lost land to the wildlife park were not given land substitute.

Some observers also pointed out that about 29 acres belonging to the private individuals who bought from farmers in the 1980s, which was later acquired by Dungsam Cement Project were given land substitute from the prime area.

Both the former gup and surveyor denied allegations. “Even I haven’t received land substitute for 1.5 acre of land that I lost to Manas Wildlife Park,” the former gup said.

Following the resurvey, completed in 2010, officials found a majority of the resurveyed land in Rinchenthang had increased from a few decimals to several acres.

It was found that of the total 31 landowners at the Rinchenthang area, a vast expanse of dense forest that will be cleared for township, nine land owners saw increase in their land holding and eight saw a decrease in their land holding.

A local landowner, who had the largest plot of five acres, saw it increase to nine acres after the cadastral resurvey.

In the earlier interview Nganglam Dungpa Nima Gyeltshen said there are many cases of land increasing from a few decimals to acres. In total there was an increase by almost 20 acres and a de- crease by about 17 acres.

Rinchenthang, where the new Nganglam town will come up, is about 6 kilometers from the Dungkhag headquarters towards the Indian border.

Last year, town Tshogpa Kezang Wangchuk had said the emerging issue was reminiscent of the one that emerged during 2005 cadastral survey. He also accused the surveyors of demarcating land unprofessionally, which led to inconsistencies.

Others said that the surveyors depended on the whims of village tshogpas to ascertain government land from private while some villagers alleged that a few people even cleared forests to expand their holdings.

Dungpa Nima Gyeltshen, who saw the discrepancies mostly in Norbugang gewog when signing the cadastral resurvey document in 2011, immediately forwarded a notice to the Pemagatshel Dzongkhag, National Land Commission and ACC to intervene.

He said that more than 400 acres of land have been identified for the township, however, about 50 percent of the identified land fall under a biological corridor,” he said over the telephone.

The ACC investigation team visited Nganglam in early July this year and is scheduled to make a second visit this month.

The Dungkhag Administration hasn’t lifted the embargo on land transactions in Nganglam.

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From KUENSEL on 17 September 2012

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This story from Sonam Pem

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

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