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73 cases of state land being occupied by individuals in Phuentsholing

During the course of auditing, the RAA learnt that there are cases of state land being occupied by individuals without any lease rent being paid by them in two Thromdes, Phuentsholing and Thimphu.

It was revealed that there were 73 such cases in Phuentsholing Thromde and four cases in Thimphu Thromde. The land parcels were used for storage, parking, garage and rented out for commercial purposes.

Section 61 (g) of the LG Act 2009 clearly stipulates that, “Thromde Tshogde shall administer and manage all government land falling within the jurisdiction of Thromde and register in the name of concerned Thromdes in accordance with the Land Act and approved local area plan”.

However, the Thromdes had neither resolved the matter nor imposed lease rents on the occupied state land.

The RAA has worked out the total revenue forgone on account of lease rents not collected as a result of Thromdes’ inaction. Phuentsholing and Thimphu thromdes had lost revenue amounting Nu 8,396,709.42 and Nu 225,246.52 respectively when calculated for financial year 2016-17. The calculation is carried out only for one recent financial year due to non-availability of records on the date of occupation.

The lack of prudence exercised by the Thromdes has resulted in loss of revenue for the Thromdes, states the audit report.

The Phuentsholing Thromde responded that the 338 encroachment cases amounting to Nu 12,752,818.17 worked out by RAA initially is based on the outdated list before National Cadastral Resurvey Program (NCRP).

The Thromde explained that the Thromde had provided the outdated list as the Thromde had not updated the list post-NCRP. The Thromde had then scrutinized the encroachment list in the draft report and clarified that most of the issues were resolved during NCRP.

The Thromde had now provided the updated list with 73 cases amounting to Nu 8,396,709.42 which are presently deemed as encroachment into state land due to established activities and over lapping structures into state land.

Phuentsholing Thromde assured that they are in the process of resolving these issues in accordance with the directive issued by the National Land Cadastral Survey (NLCS). Thimphu Thromde had notified the defaulters to demolish the structures as per Development Control Regulation (DCR) 2016 on May 8, 2018.

With regard to the cases, the RAA has accordingly updated the observation and the annexure. “The Thromdes concerned should resolve the cases highlighted in this report and intimate RAA. Further, the Thromdes should identify and be aware such encroachment cases and take appropriate actions in the future,” states the report.

According to Phuentsholing Thromde, the total area of the Industrial Estate in Pasakha is measured as 188.18 acres as per the NCRP

As per Thromde’s record, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has registered land size of 70.1 acres in Pasakha Industrial Area while the Lag Thram issued on 15/06/06 with the DoI showed a total area of 103.71 acres registered in MoEA’s name.

On review of the documents obtained from DoI, a total area of 113.62 acres was leased out to different industries by MoEA. On verification of the total area of the land on which the land tax is being levied, the RAA observed that the Thromde had collected Nu 1,524,817.80 starting from the year 2014 on account of land tax from MoEA for the registered land of 70.1 acres

“While MoEA has been collecting lease rents from the industries for 113.62 acres, the Thromde had been levying land tax only on 70.01 acres. Such variances in records are an indication of lack of coordination among relevant agencies and Thromde’s inaction to resolve the issue.”

The NLCS stated in their response that the Lag Thram issued in 2006 showing total area of 103.71 acres registered in MoEA’s name is invalid as 70.1 acres was measured and updated in the Thram during NSC.

The NLCS further stated that the area measured was 188.18 acres and thus, the Thram was kept pending due to the excess land measured.

The Phuentsholing Thromde responded that the Thram was not issued to MoEA after the NCRP and the land tax levied is on the registered area of 70.1 acres. The Thromde also conveyed that the tax arrears will be collected after the release of the Thram by NLCS.

It was expressed that the NLCS had directed the Thromde to correct the area as per ground occupation and the area rectification will be processed after demarcation of the Industrial LAP.

The report stated that Phuentsholing Thromde should expedite the area rectification and as expressed, the Thromde should collect the land tax arrears after the issuance of Lag Thram.

Tshering from Thimphu