The project is awaiting results from the quality test of the rock samples

Update: While the government has handed over the Takshasili quarry to Punatsangchu Hydroelectric Project Authority II (PHPA), the real extraction of the quarry would begin sometime next month, project officials said.

PHPA II managing director RN Khazanchi said, “At present, the consumption is small and the quarry was mainly acquired for the construction of the dam,” he said.  The concreting of  dam is expected to begin  sometime in August subject to approval from the authority during the empowered joint group on August 3.

The PHPA plans to soon hand over the controversial Takshasili quarry to its contractor for dam construction of PHPA II, Jaypee Associates Limited.

“The decision has been made and we’ve to hand over to the contractor, which would happen soon,” he said.

The PHPA management even chose an auspicious date for the handing-taking ceremony earlier this month but could not deliver as planned.

“We thought we need to confirm for ourselves first the quality because in the end we have to use the materials,” the managing director said.

Rock samples were collected last week for confirmatory tests. PHPA II through its consultant WAPCOS have taken 31 samples of rocks from the quarry, which were sent to the project’s lab and the Bhutan Standards Bureau.

There were also allegations that the contractors used muck in place of quality boulders in constructions.

The managing director said that rocks of high quality from the project sites could be used in building some structures as per provisions in the contract.

“We have allowed it in certain cases, but not muck because there are strict quality measures and such things can’t happen,” RN Khazanchi said.

The economic affairs ministry took over the quarry from a private company, Wakleytar Taksha Mining Private Limited and handed it over to PHPA last month.

The government formed a high-level task force to study the best option to fulfill its contractual obligation to allocate a quarry to the project. The task force recommended the Takshasili quarry after conducting a rock sampling test and geology and mines department’s assessment of the mines.

Following the government’s take over of the quarry and the declaration of the compensation package of Nu 75.9 millions, the private company’s chief executive officer wrote to the economic affairs minister declining the package. He also threatened going to court should the government refuse to give them a fair compensation or as the task force had recommended.

By Tshering Palden