… to award them a mining site despite failing to procure required machines

A community-based company in Samdrupcholing, Samdrupjongkhar, has appealed to the Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) and Prime Minister Office (PMO) to award at least one coal mining site to the community.

Officials of Pedmi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited (PDKPL) said they are hoping to receive positive responses from the DHI and PMO.

PDKPL’s chairman, Arjun Chamlagai, said the company would face huge losses if they were not allotted even one mining site, as community members and public invested huge resources to form the company.

State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL) tendered and awarded the coal mining works of Habrang and Tshophangma at Samdrupcholing in March this year to contractors after the community company could not procure machines on time.

As per an appeal letter to the PMO on June 4, PDKPL alleged that SMCL favoured the contractor, who was awarded the work at Tshophangma through earthmoving equipment deployment and financial implications or preparatory period.

It stated that the conditions given to the community are altered every time they appealed to the SMCL or related agencies.

PDKPL officials said they ordered the earth moving equipment from TCD Pvt Ltd based on its assurances to help and support banking-related works and processing letter of credit (LC), paying Nu 20 million (M) advance to the company.

“But TCD Pvt Ltd could not deliver the machines on time even after we provided all the documents and correspondences required by the company,” an official said.

PDKPL officials alleged that TCD Pvt Ltd hasn’t seriously worked on the banking procedures and process.

According to the appeal letter, the difference in the cost between the requisition of SMCL on September 4 last year and February 6 this year comes to around Nu 60M that poses a significant impact on already abject financial conditions. “We have written several letters and approached the DHI and SMCL for reconsideration and time extensions.”

It also stated the contractor, who had been awarded the work, also could not avail the loan and deploy the machines, but was given time extension repeatedly unlike the PDKPL. “We didn’t get any further time extension despite our several requests.”

Khaila Hiring was supposed to start the mining works on May 16 as per the work order issued by SMCL on April 14 this year, but it could not as the contractor failed to deploy machines.

The letter stated that representing 4,187 shareholders, constituting 98.37 percent of the total households in the four gewogs and with the money in hand and the expertise in the management, PDKPL is confident to take up the hiring of machines in one of the two mining sites.

“The support and consideration would help not only the shareholders, but also enhance the socio-economic conditions of the communities in the drungkhag,” it stated. “We would not only take up the existing sites but also other viable sites if the SMCL gives us the opportunity.”

Meanwhile, PDKPL had also written to the DHI to reconsider the machine hiring to the SMCL for the coal minings in Samdrupcholing on May 27 this year.

Arjun Chamlagai said the community had cancelled the deal with the TCD Pvt Ltd as it could not deliver the required machines on time and asserted new claims and changes to the memorandum of understanding every time the community requested it about the machines.

He said no machines arrived in Samdrupcholing because the supplier could not obtain the LC, and the community could not avail the loans due to the shortage of time and lack of banking knowledge regarding the LC. “TCD Pvt Ltd hasn’t properly processed loans, either submitting incomplete documents or showing ambiguity.”

He said the community has to bear the losses incurred for setting up the offices and interest on loans availed for buying machines if SMCL does not award the works.”

He also said the supplier would take time to reimburse the advance money.

Arjun Chamlagai said the community had proposed the loan amount of Nu 125M, as it costs about Nu 250M for 27 machines and 22 10-wheelers to take both the mining sites. “But we do not have to avail a huge amount of loan to take up the one mining site as it does not require that many machines.”

By Kelzang Wangchuk| Samdrupjongkhar

Edited by Tashi Dema