Almost two decades after the mass eviction of 1990s, the land commission has started a so-called digital cadastral survey in all districts of the south.
The survey has finally come to the south as the National Land Commission (NLC) had launched a nationwide re-survey of land holdings, at an estimated budget of Nu 460 million on July 13, 2008.
The Commission said that it decided to go for re-surveying of all landholdings in the country, which number around 100,000, for settling existing disputes related to lands.
The survey would take an accuracy of 10 cm instead of sectoral meters used with the old system, and accordingly the data would be stored in digital form meeting the international standards.
Lhotshampas dwelling in the south have felt that the move is an attempt to capture all land data to victimize them in long run.
Nepali-speaking people in the south expressed fear that the fate would be severe for households, which had to split during mass eviction of 1990s with inheritable landholding or have purchased lands from those who have become refugees.
“The idea itself seems noble, but people in the southern belt are facing yet another burden as some of them own the inherited lands from those who were evicted in 1990s. There are many households that bought lands at low price when their friends had to abandon everything” said a retired civil servant from Samtse, requesting his anonymity.
Several had suffered the same fate in Samtse and Sarpang when the then Home Minister Dago Tshering termed all such landholdings as illegal after learning such kinds of land trade during the eviction period.
“This survey is being exercised to collect actual data of all landholdings in the south, and according declare them illegal to victimize the citizens,” added the source.
The survey officials are even learnt to be demanding citizens to pay a heavy sum for extra land accusing them of illegally capturing the lands and farms inherited to them by their ancestors, who have either passed away or were evicted in 90s.
“The cadastral survey is already in the field even in other places like Thimphu. However, the officials are applying completely different techniques in victimizing Lhotshampas in the southern districts. The reality is different in Thimphu,” the source further said.
Citizens in the south suspected that the survey team has been striking off private and fertile lands under cultivation, likely to be confiscated or allotted to someone in future as kidu by the King.
Several households from Tsirang, Samtse and Samdrup Jongkhar are learnt to have met such a fate already. The survey team was said to have returned following stern protests in Samtse.
According to the existing Land Act, households categorized as F5 and F4 (those people who could produce a certificate of origin proving only one parent had been born in Bhutan where only the certified parent qualifies for citizenship) are not allowed to hold any land properties in Bhutan and with this rules many are deprived of the rights of keeping their inherited lands or buying immoveable properties in their names.
The country’s Land Act was revised in 1979, but just came into implementation from January 1, 2008.
Following the implementation of the revised act, the land commissioned has settled over 6,000 land disputes so far. It is said that several Lhotshampas were made empty handed while settling those disputes, and several cases are awaiting legal clearance from the kangaroo court of Bhutan.