A petition to spare their pastureland
Yeshi Gyeltshen, ParoJan 29 2014
The villagers of Wangtsa in Haa say they have lost about 880 acres of pastureland to development works. If this is to continue, they fear, they will be left without grazing land soon. They have put up a petition to the Dzongkhag Administration for the second time so that their plea is heeded to.
The Tshogpa of Wangtsa Chiwog, Phub Dollay, said the only pastureland left for their village is the little patch of land located above the petrol station. He said about 35 households share the pastureland which measures just about an acre. “There is no scope for expansion because the pastureland lies in between private land and land belonging to IMTRAT.”
In 2009, the pastureland was marked for community forest. But before it was certified as a community forest, the area was given away as a substitute land to someone. The villagers say they have not been consulted and that they suspect foul play.
The Dzongkhag Forestry Officer, Gem Tshering, said the pastureland hadn’t been leased out to the people of Wangtsa and thus consulting them was not deemed necessary.
He added the decision to give away the pastureland as substitute land was made in the presence of Katsho Gup and Mangmi. The Dzongkhag Forestry Officer also said the pastureland had to be identified as substitute land because there was no other land available in the gewog.
“Municipal office took over a private land for the Water treatment plans and then there was no other available land to be given as substitute.”
Gem Tshering said the Land acquisition and exchange committee, headed by the former Dzongda, went to the location and did research. “They found out the land did not come under the Community Forest plans and so it was identified as substitute land.”
Villagers are waiting to hear back from the authorities on the petition they have submitted before they decide their next course of action.