"We have sent the proposals for two other house constructions to the ministry," the municipal engineer, Chophel Dorji, said.
The municipal engineer said that Gelephu town was re-planned in 2006 and in 2008 the ministry of works and human settlement (MoWHS) approved the new town plan. "The ministry directed the municipal office to implement the town planning and update the thram status with NLC then," he said.
But the NLC froze all constructions in 2008 because every town plan had to be endorsed by it to ensure that all issues with excess land and thram (land registration) were clear.
"People who had made the excess land payment did not get thrams and people were not allowed to construct houses," an official said. About 80 plot owners paid for excess land holdings.
"It's high time the government allow us to construct houses," said a plot owner in the town. "We have bought the land and could not do anything with it until now," the businessman said, adding he could have otherwise constructed a house, rented it out and earned income two years ago.
The municipal engineer said that the office will announce the thaw in the freeze and plot owners who have paid for excess land before the NLC's suspension letter and want to construct should process for it. About 40 plots owners, whose plots are vacant, are expected to construct houses. "We'll announce the notification and plot owners should process for the construction," he said.
In the past decade things have slightly improved for the town with a new highway connecting it to the Wangdue and Thimphu, the resettlement programme and plans afoot to use it as an entry point to transport equipment and material for hydropower projects planned in the central districts.
Gelephu dungpa, Yeshey Rangrik Dorji, said that constructions would be allowed to ease the housing problem. "But we're doing it very selectively to avoid complications," he said, adding that the set criteria would be strictly followed.
Meanwhile, about 425 plot owners of the one square km LAP I are still waiting for the NLC to endorse their plots. "I've visited the municipal office several times, asking if the endorsement had come," a civil servant, who owns a plot in the area, said.
The constructions in the LAP I would be allowed the moment NLC and MoWHS direct the municipal office to handover the plots to the owners, according to Chopel Dorji.
He said that officials from NLC had visited and verified the demarcation of plots in LAP I and given verbal consensus. "We've also allowed three plot owners, who have enough land to construct houses," he said, adding that other plot owners have small areas that could be affected if the LAP I plan is not approved.