By Tenzin Sangmo
Camp No. 7 for the newly arrived Tibetan refugees in Bylakuppe
DHARAMSHALA, April 11: A new camp with 80 houses was inaugurated yesterday by Wangdu Tsering Pesur, the secretary of the home department of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) for the rehabilitation of a group of newly arrived Tibetan refugees in Lugsung Samdupling (LugSam) Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe, Karnataka.
Choephel Thupten, Chief Representative of South Zone, attended the ceremony along with members of surrounding monasteries, schools and heads of NGOs. A group of monks from Tashi Lhunpo monastery performed consecration rituals at a modest ceremony.
LugSam was the first settlement to be established in India in 1960. According to the latest population survey done by the CTA for the creation of the centralized workforce information, the settlement has 4,900 members tentatively. It is one of the biggest Tibetan settlements with a total area of 3,210 acres.
The project has cost a total of INR 61249951.
The houses must be returned to the CTA if the original recipients move away and may not be sold or their ownership transfered. A plan is afoot to make binding legal papers in this regard.
The list of the members was collected from 2012-2013 and repeated thrice to ensure accuracy. The construction began in 2016. The LugSam Tibetan Settlement Office has overseen the construction helmed by three successive settlement officers over the past five years.
There are 17 houses for single occupants, 53 houses for families with 2-4 members and 10 houses for families with 5-8 members.
The CTA plans to build more such residential houses to rehabilitate more newly arrived Tibetans in Mundgod where an area has been earmarked.
Starting this year, a separate budget has been allocated for the welfare of newly arrived Tibetans amounting to five crore rupees.
The CTA’s home department continues to receive letters from groups of newly arrived Tibetans from Norbulingka, Mandi, Tso-Pema, Dharamshala and Delhi requesting for rehabilitation.
The department had received applications looking to secure houses vacated by original settlers in Hunsur settlement where most of the original members have moved abroad.
The problem, according to the CTA home department, is to ensure that there is no duplication in the list for future welfare endeavours.
Jigme, a recipient of house for single occupant in the newly constructed camp said that it solved his problem of finding a permanent housing. However, he said that the home department has overlooked the criteria it set at the beginning for a potential beneficiary by giving houses to nuns, people who already own houses and those who have married into members of existing settlements.