Rajesh Rai | Samtse 

Dhamdum Industrial Park (DIP) in Samtse, which has remained idle for some years, is gradually taking shape with some factory constructions almost complete.

Of the nine industries that initially agreed to start construction at the DIP, Samtse in December last year, only three – a textile factory, a furniture house, and a fruit juice factory – have started work.

Druk Textile, a textile factory, completed about 85 percent of the construction.

Its proprietor, 32-year old Tshering Dhendup is eagerly waiting to start production in three months.

“It’s the first of its kind in the country,” he said, adding that it would manufacture fabrics.

“My target customers are government organisations, especially, the education sector.”

Tshering Dhendup said there are more than 150,000 students across the country and the school dresses were all imported.  The schools can now get the fabrics from Druk Textile.  Tailors are also expected to benefit.

By March mid this year, Tshering Dhendup said the textile machines will arrive and installation will then begin.

Meanwhile, Tshering Dhendup said while they will import the thread, the pricing will still be “very competitive” and cheaper than retail outlet prices.

“Since this is a seasonal business, we’ll keep on manufacturing until the next academic session,” he said.

Tshering Dhendup had proposed for Nu 10 million (M) loan from the National Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) Development Bank but he was just provided Nu 3.7M.  He is self-funding the rest.

Construction of a furniture house, Pallavi Furnitures has also started.  Its owner, Pralad Gurung said production would begin in June this year.

“I want to introduce the products faster into the market,” he said.

If not for the pandemic, Pralad Gurung said he would have started production in April this year.  This, he said, was because most of the promoters’ plans failed as they were looking to import labour and start work.

He is also planning to start steel fabrication.

Pralad Gurung said the government had to support the firm in the initial days.

“We’ll have to import skilled workers,” he said.  The government could allow imported workers to work at least for three years until the Bhutanese workers are adequately trained.

“Initially, I’m planning to recruit at least 10 Bhutanese,” he said.

Pallavi Furnitures has availed CSI loan of Nu 5M.  Pralad Gurung said he may have to avail some more funds later depending on the cost incurred.

Bhutan Natural Fruit and Agro-Industry (BNFAI) is the other project at the park.  Its construction started about two months ago and 25 percent of the work has been completed.

Its founder, Bhola Nath said he was expecting to complete the construction by November.

“I’ll start production by December. However, it’ll depend on the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Once ready, the agro-based company will not import raw materials.  It will buy from a cooperative, Norbu Cooperative Farming, based in Samtse.  The cooperative will buy from three gewogs of Dophuchen (Dorokha), Samtse and Norbugang (Chengmari).  Other farmers in Samtse can directly sell their produce to BNFAI.

BNFAI will focus on manufacturing flour, edible oil, fruit juice, and pulp.

BNFAI is investing Nu 61.27M.  It is investing its share of Nu 6.13M and the rest is from the National Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Today, the three firms face labour shortage for constructions.  Bhutanese workers are expensive and are not consistent at work.  However, they have managed with Bhutanese workers.

Once the DIP starts operating fully, it is expected to boost the country’s economy, including the local economy, and create many jobs.

Tengye (economic affairs) Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said the ministry is pushing at least 10 projects to start construction by June this year.

DIP also has a start-up centre where youths can engage for two years before starting their businesses.  After two years, they can either start the business or look for other promising ideas.

“We’re doing this because it will motivate youth promoters,” he said.

Meanwhile, the work on the 349-acre park began in August 2016.  It is one of the four Special Economic Zone projects in the country.  Under Project Tied Assistance, the Government of India is funding Nu 300M for the project in the current Plan.

DIP would have 77 plots for companies. There are about 50 applicants so far.

Work on the 349-acre park began in August 2016. It is one of the four Special Economic Zone (SEZ) projects in the country.

Under Project Tied Assistance, the government of India is funding Nu 300 million (M) for all these works in the current Plan.