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In 2015, the Parliament carved out 1,356 acres of land in Paro as the Dzongkhag Thromde.

The new town


will include 500 acres of prime paddy land, stretching north of Bonday town,
Heap of Jewels

October 31, 2015

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In 2015, the Parliament carved out 1,356 acres of land in Paro as the Dzongkhag Thromde. The new
town will include 500 acres of prime paddy land, stretching north of Bonday town, including the
airstrip and the land between the district hospital and the current Paro town. It will encompass
precious paddy land of 56 villages.
With restrictive wetland regulations, the face value of rice fields is diminishing. Farming is no longer
attractive. Further, the dearth of labor compounded with high costs and poor returns with great risks
make farming unappealing.
Given all the disadvantages of farming, and the temptations of the urban life, the Parops should have
naturally welcomed the Parliaments decision. Overnight, their land value had shot up. The farmers no
longer have to live in fear of the elements or toil for such poor returns.
Despite the great temptations, however, the Parops demonstrated wisdom and had the courage to
request the Parliament to reconsider their decision on the boundary so that their ancestral
agricultural land could be protected.
Like all other Dzongkhags, Paro too wants its Thromde, but is against the idea of including prime
paddy land within its boundary. The proposal of the Dzongkhag Thromde is not new. Five years ago, in
2010, the people proposed and the Parliament approved the existing town consisting of 90 acres as
the Dzongkhag Thromde. However, with the change of guards, the issue of the Thromde came up
again.
Sequence of Events
in close consultation with the people
Following government directives, the Paro Dzongkhag tshogdue
chose the existing Paro town as the Paro Dzongkhag Thromde and Bonday as the Yenlag (satellite)

Thromde.
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Policy: A regulatory

Capture of

Sorts

During the summer session, the National Assembly discussed the DTs proposal. On 3rd June, during
Thepresented
draft Bhutan
Electricity
the joint sitting of the Parliament, the Paro Thromde proposal was
without
any changes.
Domestic Policy is a blow to
After extensive discussion, it was proposed that Bonday be merged
withElectricity
the existing
Paro town.
Bhutan
Authoritys
autonomy. It goes to show
The Parliament could not reach a decision and the Ministrys proposal
that thewas
BEAnullified
is prettythrough
much a majority
a state apparatus,
almost
vote. The next day, the Parliament sought the merger of Paro Thromde
and Bonday
again. Voting
inseparable
it andand 14 voted no
ensued and 44 members voted in favour of Bonday being merged
with Parofrom
Thromde
under its constant influence.
while six abstained.
A week later, on 10th June, the Parliament discussedthe Paro Thromde and problems arose. In a turn
of events, the government surprisingly presented three maps as options. The first option was the
existing Thromde town consisting of 90 acres merged with Bonday making it 204 acres. The second
option was 1,356 acres and the third option was 1,223 acres.
When the opposition raised the question of the two newer options not having the consent of the
people, the speaker called for a vote and the second option received majority votes.
A month later, on July 6, the Election Commission of Bhutan held a public hearing for the delimitation
in the Dzongkhag Tsogdu hall in Paro. The majority of the people said they did not support the

decision of the Parliament and requested for a reconsideration of the boundaries of the Thromde.
On the same day, the DT Chairman through a letter appealed to the Speaker of the National Assembly
requesting the Parliament to review the map and relook at the issue. The letter state, We are in
favour of the boundary map, which has avoided paddy fields.
Two weeks later, on 21st July, around 200 people from Hoongrel and Wangchang gewog met and
decided to request the Speaker through their representatives to reconsider the decision of the
boundary.
The MPs met the Speaker who sent a delegation headed by the Deputy Speaker and consisting of MPs,
the Chief of ECB, and the Director of MoWHS.
On the 24th, the team met with the people of Paro. In fear of setting a bad precedent, the team tried
to persuade the people to accept the Parliaments decision by citing the following reason.
Urban taxes will not be levied immediately
Rural kidu will not be removed immediately
The Gewog will not loose its status
Wetlands will be protected.
The team also explained to the gathering the risk involved if they did not agree to the Parliaments
decision including a condition that the plenary committee may not consider their appeal as an agenda
for the winter session of the Parliament. Even it if it was considered, the Parliament may reject it
following the Election Act, which states that once a Parliament passes a law it cannot be changed for
the next 10 years.
The people were not convinced with the reasons and at the end of the meeting, the Deputy Speaker
called for a show of hands. All the people who attended the meeting raised their hands to re appeal.
On 7th August, the Paro DT Chairman wrote a letter to the Speaker with a request to consider the
peoples wishes.
Following parliamentary procedures, on 17th September, DT met again and during the 8th meeting,
the Thromde was discussed and the people unanimously decided to re-appeal. Based on the meeting,
the DT Chair wrote a letter to the Speaker again to reconsider the Parliaments decision on the
Thromde boundary.
Almost a month later, on 14th October, the plenary meeting of the National Assembly met and
rejected the petition from the local government of Paro dashing the hopes of the Parops to save their
precious paddy land.
Brief History of Paro
Paro was known as Bar kor tsho drug or the six circle settlement. The valley consists of small
clustered farmhouses with a local monastery that dot the luxuriant landscape. The quaint villages are
never too far from Rinpung dzong or the, Fortress of the Heap of Jewels that sits commandingly on a
hillside above the river.
The rice fields are the gems of the valley. It is the countrys most fertile agricultural land that has the
highest yields. It also has the most elaborate network of irrigation channels, of apparent antiquity that
controls the flow of the Pachu into the paddy fields.
For centuries and over many generations, farmers have toiled the land and built and preserved many

of the rich traditions and customs. The farmers have earned a reputation of being industrious who
take great pride in their rich tradition and customs and being self-sufficient. For them, the rice fields
are more than a livelihood. It is a way of life. Paro has been the rice bowl of the country, contributing
greatly to food self-sufficiency in the country.
The Great Fourths Wisdom
During the 34-year reign of His Majesty the Great Fourth, one of his main policies was to protect the
rice fields. His Majesty worked selflessly and tirelessly in the interest of the people whose welfare was
uppermost in his mind. Often, His Majesty would forego economic gains to preserve the environment.
For example, in the late 1970s, a profitable marble mine in Khangku, opposite the Paro Dzong, was
shut down because His Majesty did not want to scar the beautiful Paro valley.
The Impact
The Plenary Committee of the National Assemblys decision not to consider the local government of
Paros petition to reconsider the Parliaments decision on the Thromde boundary is a damaging one.
Overnight out of the 1,356 acres, the land use of 500 acres will change. Out of the total population of
26,982, 4,034, which is 15% of the population, will become urban dwellers.
The blissful experience of flying in and out of Paro will change as the rice fields will be desecrated and
destroyed just like Changjiji in Thimphu with concrete buildings making the experience of the
approach and exit to the capital not a very blissful one.
Conclusion
Despite repeated requests by the local government of Paro to reconsider the demarcation of the Paro
Dzongkhag Thromde, the Parliament has not changed its stand. However, with the winter session just
about to begin, the Paropos are hopeful that their concerns will be raised during the Q& A Session.
Failing which, the physical, cultural and archicetural landscape of the rice bowl of Bhutan will be
altered forever.
Furthermore, it will be shocking violation of our Great Fourths policy of G.N.H where the happiness
and welfare of the people should be of paramount importance to the government who promised to
serve the people.

Contributed by
Tshering Tashi