Hejo vs Denchi

Denchi: relatively expensive

About two years ago, I’d written about a group of residents in Hejo, Thimphu. Their land had been taken over by the government. But they had not accepted the government’s compensation for their land. They claimed that the government’s compensation rate – set by the Property Assessment and Valuation Agency, PAVA – was too low. They protested that their land, located adjacent to Thimphu’s dzong and close to the capital’s business center, fetched much higher prices in the market. And they pointed out that even PAVA’s rates were considerably higher for land that is located further away from the center of Thimphu.

The residents of Hejo have still not been able to resolve their case. They agree that the government can acquire their land for “public purpose”. But they know that the Constitution says that the government can do so only “on payment of fair compensation”. And since the current compensation not “fair”, they have been fighting for a better compensation rate.

Further afield, in Denchi, Pema Gatshel, the government has acquired land to develop a new township. But in this case, the government – the cabinet, no less – has granted compensation rates in excess of PAVA’s rates. The cabinet’s approved rate of Nu 9,000 per decimal more than doubles PAVA’s rate, calculated at Nu 3,952.42 per decimal for Denchi. In fact, the cabinet’s rate is 128% more than PAVA’s rate.

It’s obvious that the landowners in Denchi stand to benefit. And what has now become obvious is that a certain Aum Dechen, who happens to be the prime minister’s aunty, stands to benefit the most. She gets a cool Nu 21.60 million for her land. That’s a whopping Nu 12.12 million above PAVA’s rate of Nu 9.48 million.

The residents of Hejo are still fighting for”fair compensation”for their land. But those in distant Denchi have been given more than their fair share – thanks to the cabinet’s intervention.

To resolve the Hejo case, PAVA should revise the compensation rates, as they must, once every three years.

And to resolve the Denchi case, ACC should investigate the cabinet’s involvement for possible corruption.

Photo credit: The Bhutanese

 

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Comments

  1. Anyway Denchipa’s are benefited,they r also citizen of Bhutan and they are entitle for kidu.But y cabinet compensated flawing the law of the the land? What is the problems for not being able to follow? Now it is clear y they r eying for HM’s kidu power.Since,excess payment is made flawing the law all cabinet should be held responsible n have to be reimbursed from their own.
    When PM visited Yangtse ( in DYT hall)he was proudly saying after election he has lots of power n that is what he did at Denchi.
    This is one of the dangerous precedent made and i doubt where they land up after completion of their terms.

  2. OL doesn’t want people of the east benefited, that is the whole point. And it is Aunt not Aunty.

  3. When the government wanted some more powers over land issues and mind you, the RGOB never wanted any power over kidu land, which would always remain the prerogative of His Majesty, the OL and the wise members of the NC were the first one’s to object. Looking back, if the government had been given those powers, they could have solved the “Hejo” and other pending land issues, now all of sudden, he is championing the cause of the people of Hejo and then somehow connecting it to the Denchi issue. I only hope that the residents of Hejo know that they are being used by the OL to further his own career

  4. thecommonman says:

    THIS is a serious case of policy corruption and nepotism at the highest level fo the government. It brings out the dirty side of the goings-in in the cabinet. Eventually, the laws/rules have been overstepped and broken. ACC must investigate this case at the soonest possible. We can’t have a crooked bunch of cabinet ministers led by the PM run our country!

  5. Please don’t bring HM into this forum and please don’t try and blame HM for all of DPT problems. DPT is turning into a party of anti-nationals it seems.

    In regard to what fuentsho said PM is doing the opposite. He is grabbing land in Gyelposhing from the poor eastern people and when it comes to his relatives in Pemagatshel he is giving them rates far above the PAVA rate. Equity and Justice is the name of the game.

  6. Dear Guardian,
    You are correct indeed! OL co-related Hejo as to gain political mileage, that is for sure,but gov gave loopholes to relate it at first.Being opposition he will do it.I understand being PM he has lots of work to do but why openly doing wrong.And what is the difference between Hejo and Denchi, where cabinet can flaw law for Denchi and not Hejo?.We are looking very closely since our lands are also verge of acquiring by Kholongchu.

  7. Frustrated Man says:

    The Land Act 2007, chapter 7, clause 148 mandates land substitution in event if the acquired land is the only plot of the land owner. I have been following consistently with National Land Commission since 2008 for substitution, but in vain. The law is clear and all paper works are clear. God knows what is happening. The land is located at Hejo- Green Zone.

  8. Sangey of Haa Wangcha says:

    Thank you opposition leader for highlighting the better compensation rate for Denchi farmers of Pema Gatsel. Being a son of the soil, I wish the amount was more because farm land is everything to farmers. I have supported Hejo land owners much before. In fact I had publicly suggested that if Government lacks monetary resource to pay fair compensation then keep in abeyance the principal cost of land and pay reasonable annual interests to land owners. No national leaders have yet publicly declared that land is not precious to Bhutanese people. The reason for inability to pay better compensation rate was lack of financial resources with the Government.

    Many including I admire the two member opposition party for its feistiness. We are now into the 5th year of democratic governance. So by now you must graduate from being purely opposition leader to a national leader. Bhutanese are still farmers if not in occupation then in their hearts. For a party leader to oppose better deal for farmers is like deserting even the 34% of Bhutanese who is said to have voted for PDP. Be a national leader, hereafter, and demand similar or better deal for farmers.

    There is a difference between party leader and national leader. One just has to look across the border to our neighboring friend India. There are many political parties and party leaders. Yet the largest opposition party BJP does not have a national leader that the party can confidently depict as its Prime Ministerial candidate and the Congress was in no better situation. It had to look up to Dr. Man Mohan Singh who actually is not a politician or a party leader with his own political base. He never contested a parliamentary seat, however, he has the national leadership quality.

    Thank you for clarifying the acronym PAVA. Recently City Officials quoted that and when I asked what it exactly stood for, I was told something to do with DNP rate for land. Again thank you for creating public awareness about many issues.

  9. Frustrated Man,

    The elected government has no powers to solve your problem, it was for that express reason only that they wanted some more say over land issues. The OL and the NC MPs like Sonam Kinga were the ones that shot that proposal down by making it an issue of the DPT usurping the powers of His Majesty, when in reality it was nothing like that.

    So good luck to you and hope you realize that the OL was never really championing your cause and is now using this issue to gain some political mileage out of it.

    And I fully support what Sangay of Haa Wangcha has stated, a better deal for the farmers.

  10. Kalapather says:

    The benefit is proportionate to the land holdings. Naturally Aum Dechen has to get more money than others who has less land. This is a simple logic and politician of OL level has to say this! Sangay of Haa Wacha may like to coach the two Opposition MPS to broaden their perspectives. This is my opinion.

  11. Hi Guardian and Sangay of Haa Wangcha,
    “A better dealfor the farmers” ya!!!I think we have to think thousand times when you quote or say this statement.
    I am neither supporting OL or DPT.But as an ordinary citizen of the country law of the country should be adhered.In this context,PAVA’s rules and regulation should be followed be it cabinet,high class or common people.Today few were benefited by violating PAVA T& C,think of tomorrow as there will come lot of develop activities were people have to be compensated.If PAVA is not followed,Government will pay to the beneficiaries or to execute development work.For benefit of all,let everyone adhere to law of the land.
    God enlighten the stingy,selfish and wealth hunger bunch of people of this GNH land.

  12. The difference between land compensation rate of two places is plain and simple. Hejo owners were asking urban rate in sq.ft, which comes into millions for a equivalent land at Denchi. For Denchi, instead of blaming government, we should celebrate the fact that most landowners (farmers) were compensated properly.

    Cheers

  13. So what is it you want? High rates for Hejo or low rates for Denchi? Or is it that you want it whichever way hits JYT more?

    Central to the debate is that PAVA’s classification of land and compensation rates are flawed. They need to acquire farmlands but they want to pay the minimum. So they categorize it as B when it should be A. They don’t look at the trend and market prices and don’t factor in lands that are phazhi. If phazhi is put in as a criteria for calculation for compensation, I am sure it will reduce speculation.

  14. Tangled are u saying govt should start paying urban rates for rural land.

    Ur talk is similar to NLC verdictwhere Chnag ugyen can grab land in thimphu and get it replaced elsewhere

  15. Hope the verdict on Chang Ugyen’s land grab case in Lubding will be revered as this is laughable. It is a big joke by any standard.

  16. Frustrated Man says:

    Guardian,

    I am not looking at politicians ( or any politician) to solving my problem but definately the elected government/cabinet. Goverment can solve. When they can veto on Denchi, who not for Hejo. As for OL, he is doing his job. And remember, he is just not doing, but excelling.

  17. simple,there can’t be any ups and downs, must stick to the law and go accordingly

  18. Please do not forget that it is not the interest of the land owners to sell their land. A major landowner like Am Dechen can refuse to part with the land and there will be no Demchi town. PAVA only takes into the value of the land as it stands and not the potential of the land once it is identified as a site for developing a town as in the case of Demchi. In case of Hejo, why did the owners wait so long to seek compensation? Why didn’t the governments before the present government settle the claims then? OL, do you have a plot in Hejo?

  19. Frustrated man,

    My take is this, if the land act had been allowed to be amended in the last session of parliament, than it would have allowed the government to allot land substitute to the affected land owners like you at another location in and around Thimphu.

    And, the Denchi and the Hejo cases are completely different, in the former, there is no possibility of land substitution being granted, in the latter, as it is too expensive for the government to provide monetary compensation and while they would like to provide the affected land owners substitute land, they cannot, as they are not allowed to do so by law.

    So as long as this status quo remains, than your best bet is with the OL and the people at the NLC.

  20. If OL tells us what the PAVA rates were for HEJO, maybe we could put things in to proper perspective. Since OL seems reluctant to share this information with us, “frustrated man”, seems to be the logical choice to do the needful.

  21. Phuntso,

    Tangle is saying nothing of that sort, do you mean to say Nu9000 per decimal are urban rates.

  22. Simple logic at play here

    1. PAVA rate applied across country including Hejo

    2. PAVA rate increased by 200 percent by violating govt laws

    3. Main beneficiary is PM’s Aunty who gets Nu 12.12 mn more then she should.

    4. Special rates only for PM’s Aunty

    5. PM’s and Aunty’s relatives and supporters come on OL’s blog to make a fool of themselves

    6. Result will be seen in 2013

  23. Phunstho,

    After 2013 no PDP so no OLs blog, so where will you go and cry.

  24. Frustrated Man says:

    Guardian

    what we fail to understand is-if the cabinet has so much authority over Denchi, I am sure for Hejo too. There is no need to amend. What matters is – connections? We have good connections – everything is possible. Otherwise, It is a sorry state of affairs. I think the issue over here is systemic failure. With systemic failure, what is the use of amending? The rule clearly state fair compensation and substitution in case of being the only plot. Both these places -Hejo and Denchi are acquired or reserved by the government for one or other reason. Land related scams run much deeper.

    PAVA for Hejo is about Nu 80,000/Deci, compared to a few lakhs/market rate, I think. What the remaining owners of Hejo are requesting is to at-least compensate them enough to buy a plot in Thimphu or substitute.

  25. frustrated man,

    I have told you exactly why the cabinet cannot help you in your case, I said that RGOB did not have enough money to compensate all the owners at Hejo and would have been willing to allot substitute land for the affected land owners but the law does not allow them to do so.

    Haha compare Nu80,000 and Nu9000 and than you get the true picture, need I say anything more.

    Like I said earlier, OL and NLC are your last hope.

  26. All land cases are of not the same complexity. Some can easily be solved while it is not so with other cases. Why OL is against Pema Gatshel? Is it because he is from the west? Does PDP not want any representatives from Pema Gatshel? Please, treat all the regions with same attitude.

  27. phuntsho,

    Green Zone – Hejo Land Nu.80,000 per decimal, this is the urban rate in a green zone, now what is Nu.9000 per decimal, is it an urban rate.

  28. Sonam,

    The issue is not of urban or rural rate. For God’s sake, do some maths. The issue here is of the cumulative total.

    The OL’s post is designed to cause mistrust in the government. He is insinuating that because one of the land owners is the PM’s aunt, the town for Pema Gatshel should not be built on the grounds that she will stand to gain monetarily. What a stupid logic.

  29. Prool,

    My maths was to sure Phuntso that Denchi compensation were not urban rates, that’s why the comparison. I very well know the mischief OL is up to.

  30. I think this blog and this issue raised by OL is going to cause ethnic problems and regionalism in Bhutan. We don’t want such politicians and such leaders.

  31. Pema Gatshel is one of the few dzongkhangs which still does not have a dzongkhang capital town. This is because the highly congested dzong along with the existing commercial area was declared unsafe because of geo technical conditions that made it prone to landslides. Shopkeepers were told over 20 years ago not to build permanent structures and were told that a suitable site for the dzong and township would be selected very soon.

    The issue was brought up by its representatives more than two
    decades ago during the 69th session of the National Assembly on 26 March, 1990, urging the government to take a speedy decision and not to deprive the people of this essential facility.
    The question of locating an ideal site became a protracted and contentious issue both at the local government and the national
    level.

    The hunt for an ideal location, however, proved difficult.

    Since 1990 three locations had been identified and rejected.

    The first location identified was Yurung Gewog. Yurung was rejected because it was a very fertile and cultivated land which meant displacement of an entire population especially the farmers. The second one was Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley’s ancestral land – a hill top which belonged to his paternal uncle. This site was rejected since it was on a hill top and had no access to any water source.The third location, Khar Gewog, was also rejected on similar grounds as Yurung.

    His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo recommended, during the 89th session of the National Assembly on 26 March, 2006, that Denchi is the most suitable site for the new Pema Gatshel town.
    This is because Denchi was the only flat area in the whole of Pema Gatshel, centrally located at the base of the valley and ideal in connecting all the other gewogs. Most importantly,Denchi was very close to a stream and had easy access to perennial water source. Denchi as the new town also involved minimum displacement of population.

    “In obedience to the command of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Denchi was identified as the place for relocation of the Dzong and town,” states the National Assembly resolution signed on 26 March, 2006.

    Hence, a negotiation with the 26 tharm holders of Denchi was initiated.

    Acquisition of land, however, became a very serious bottleneck in the progress of the township development since the price demanded by some of the thram holders was very high. They had compared to the PAVA approved land prices of Nganglam which was Nu. 9801 per decimal for commercial purpose and Nu. 9770.51 for residential purpose.

    As per the directives of the Cabinet Secretariat on 26 November, 2010 the PAVA task force met on 27 November, 2010 to review the existing rates for Denchi and Nganglam under Pema Gatshel for submission to the Lhengye Zhungtshog.

    Following the deadlock between the government and the thram holders of Denchi and also, as per the instructions of the Cabinet Secretariat, PAVA task force team on 28 December, 2010 submitted and recommended the rates as Nu. 5646.32 per decimal for Class A rural land and Nu. 3952.42 for Class B rural land, as per the current land compensation notification dated 17 April, 2009 enforced with effect from May 2009.

    However, prior to this recommendation by PAVA, the declaration of Thromdes and Boundaries proposed by the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement was approved by the Joint Sitting of the Parliament, in line with Article 1 Section 4 of the Constitution, on 2 July, 2010. In this connection,the proposal for declaration of Class A, Class B and Yenlag Thromdes and boundaries in the different dzongkhangs were approved and thus, Denchi in Shumar gewog of Pema Gatshel was established and declared as a Thromde Category B and NOT Rural Class B as reported by The Bhutanese.

    “The entire 68 members present voted in favor of the proposal on Thromde in each dzongkhag,” sates the Joint Sitting Resolution signed on 14 July, 2010.

    Accordingly, PAVA land compensation rate for urban category as per the current land compensation notification dated 17 April, 2009 fixes the commercial rates for PemaGatshel at Nu. 18905.04 and Nu. 9844.56 as residential rates.
    However, because of the financialconstraints faced by the royal government and majority land holders being a relative of the Prime Minister, land owners were finally persuaded to accept the rate of Nu. 9000 per decimal. The rate was then accepted, very reluctantly, by the other thram holders.

  32. We need to heed Observers warnings before they are too late, at this rate, it won’t be long before there is a “Sharchokpa party”, then the west will retaliate by having a Ngalong party and it is easy for all to see who will win if the great divide actually happens. Surely we don’t want our country to be divided on such ethnic lines do we?

  33. mongar123 says:

    It is time OL stop using The Bhutanese as political mileage….

    Everybody knows what is written in between the lines.

    OL is so desperate to win next election and you will stoop that low…./