I was going through today's edition of Kuensel (August 1, 2014). And an article by Tempa Wangdi particularly caught my attention. What a good news to begin the month, I thought.
Some farmers in Trongsa are saying 'No' to town planning. They fear that they will have nothing at the end to hand over to their children. And that will be the end of their ancestral properties. But that's not all - I think - it poses a serious threat to our food security. How on earth can we achieve food self-sufficiency when we keep building houses and big structures in places that were once preserved for agricultural purposes?
I don't understand this thing. On one hand we insist on our policy of food security and other we build houses and turn fertile lands into towns. This is quite intriguing. In some countries, fertile lands are used for agricultural purposes and it is only here in Bhutan that we submit them to developmental activities. Thimphu Expressway is the best example of how we lose our agricultural land to the forces of modernization. That stretch was paddy field when I first visited Thimphu as a kid. But today it plays host to the highway and hundreds of buildings.
In rush to have road connectivity our people back home in the villages sign on every document. If a road can come to their villages, nothing can matter. And as a result many paddy fields are bulldozed. Many maize fields are flattened. I don't know how many sogshings and fruit trees would yield that way. In most of the villages, compensation was not even mentioned. But people are happy anyway - all they want is road and any attempt to object to that decision to bring road is seen as a black sheep in the villages. At this rate, we can never do away with import of rice and other food items from our neighbors. Then our policymakers talk at length on how we are going through what they call INR crisis and what its implications are. Such are the voices of experts!
But I am happy. Now our people are fast maturing. Trongsa incident exhibits that signs. Now they understand the implication of submitting everything to the forces of development. It also means that they now understand the need to preserve the fertile lands for agricultural purpose. And I am equally fascinated by some villagers in the same Dzongkhag (in a separate news report by BBS) requesting to opt out of Trongsa Throm because they have to pay urban taxes while still living fairly a rural life.