On 26th July 2012, His Majesty the King granted a kasho (royal decree) regularising a long-standing excess land issue in the district. Present at the Audience were 350 persons comprising Dzongkhag officials, Local Government representatives, retired public officials, retired military personnel and village elders. This is the transcript of the royal address.
“As I travelled to Wangdiphodrang today, I felt deeply saddened as I saw the ruins of Wangdi dzong. We lost a great treasure. I have prayed often, since the fire, in the Kundun of the Machhen, that we may be able to restore the dzong to its old glory and build a monument to the achievements of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and our forefathers, and a shrine for the peace and happiness of all sentient beings.
I want to thank you all for gathering here today. Having received the results of the Cadastral Re-survey for Wangdipdodrang dzongkhag, I wanted to travel to each gewog and village and meet our people. However, I know that at this time, there is much work to be done in the farms and my visit would be very inconvenient to our people. That is why I have asked only for you, the Gups, elders and retired public servants to come here to meet me. I ask you to convey everything I say, clearly and in detail to our people when you return to your villages.
On 9th of December 2006 my father - my King - commanded me to assume the duties of King. As Crown Prince, I had submitted to His Majesty, that there was so much to do for the nation, and that it was my prayer that His Majesty continued to oversee the work of serving the people. However, in the end, I had to obey my King. Shortly after, I attended my first session of parliament. At the time I hesitated to sit on the Throne as I had not received Dhar Nge-Nga from Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, nor had a formal Coronation. In spite of His Majesty, my father’s reassurances, I sought the Blessings and Guidance of the Guardian Deities in assuming my duties as King in the service of our people and country.
Since then, I have travelled the country and met our people. Of all that I saw, the overriding lesson is that land is the most important asset of our people. Yet, as a spiritual nation where environmental conservation is a fundamental part of our philosophy of GNH, we have set aside vast areas for forests (about 81% forest cover), biological corridors and national parks. Of the rest of the land, much is rugged, devoid of water, geologically unstable or inhospitable. Experts say only about 7% of Bhutan is arable. Land is scarce. That is why I have always felt that the most important duty I have is to ensure that all Bhutanese possess adequate land and shelter, under these difficult circumstances.
In order to address the problems of land, we started the cadastral re-survey in 2008 (having made preparations since 2007). We started from Lhuentse, as an auspicious beginning to an historic effort. Lhuentse is after all the home of (desi) Jigme Namgyel. I travelled to each gewog where the survey was conducted and granted land Kidu to the people, in the hope that our people and future generations would benefit. Even today, people come and meet me and speak of how their lives have improved since then. It is matter of immense happiness and satisfaction for me.
During the tour of Lhuentse and Mongar and parts of Trashigang and Trashi Yangtse, in a total of 38 gewogs, there were 29,125 cases of excess land amounting to 40,053 acres. Kidu was granted for all these landowners amounting to about Nu. 659 million.
Here in Wangdiphodrang there are a total of 8,211 cases amounting to about 1,989 acres, of which there are:
· 5,077 cases of individuals with excess land amounting to 782.5 acres
· 905 cases of Khimsa amounting to 166.75 acres
· 1,845 cases of encroachment on State Land and excess land surrendered during new sathram compilation in 2000, amounting to 761.9 acres
· 58 cases of Dratshang land amounting to 75.9 acres
· 194 cases of community and private lhakhangs amounting to 200.7 acres
· 6 cases of community land amounting to about 2 acres
I am pleased to grant all the excess land as Kidu. In addition to granting the land, the excess land cost shall also be waived. Those who have already paid the cost shall be reimbursed. The Kidu in Wangdiphodrang in excess land is 2,752 acres of land and a total cost of Nu. 28.4 million. Including chhuzhing excess of 4,857 acres the total excess land Kidu is 7,610 acres.
In granting this Kidu, I want to remind you all that our country is not rich. Yet, I am also aware of the difficulties of life in rural Bhutan. Homes have to be built, families must be looked after and children must be put to school. The simple task of buying CGI sheets for the roof of a small house is an immense undertaking in remote villages. Farming is not easy in most parts of Bhutan. And while early education is free, the costs are still high for rural Bhutanese and it becomes far more difficult if they do not qualify for government high schools and colleges. I know how difficult your lives are. Therefore, I am providing this land as Kidu so that your lives are made easier and in the hope that you will utilize this land to bring great benefit to the lives of your children and grandchildren.
Recognizing the importance of our people in nation building, the importance of land in building stronger futures for our people especially in rural Bhutan, and the importance of strong citizens with a stake in the nation’s future in nurturing participation and democracy - the King is granting scarce land resources and funds as Kidu. The people must now join hands with the King and uphold their duties in building a stronger nation.
Leaders and elders must advice our people in the villages to invest wisely in the land and remind them that it can be used to build their economic foundations for generations. We must all remember, that the very success of democracy will depend on whether a Bhutanese citizen has a tangible stake in the nation’s future. There is nothing more secure and tangible than land.
To the senior citizens present here today, I want to reiterate the importance of local government, symbolized in the Dhar for Gups being granted from the Throne. Local government is not the smallest or lowest form of government, it is the most intimate and closest form of government for the people. It is very important. You must work to strengthen the office of the Gup and independence of local government. In the few years of democracy, we have seen immense success in the way we have built the framework for democratic governance. All the institutions and pillars of democracy are in place and there is vitality in the way different institutions work with each other. However, we need to give special focus to local government from now on.
Lastly, since 2006 my reign has been defined by the responsibility entrusted in me by my father, in introducing and building a strong foundation for democracy. I have constantly worked to build, nurture and support institutions of democratic governance; to inspire the faith of the people in democracy and their active participation and; the growth of healthy and vibrant debate, consultation and awareness. The early years of democracy have been a success.
A King’s sacred duty is in looking after the wellbeing and Kidu of our people. Thus, I have spent these years meeting my people in their homes and villages as I fulfill this duty. I pray that my people will utilize to the fullest the Kidu I strive to bring to them, and ensure that its benefits accrue, not only to them but to the future generations. I do so wholeheartedly in the knowledge that this land Kidu is going to none other than our humble, hardworking and committed farmers. I am most happy if it is of benefit to them, the back bone of our nation.”