Dechen Dolkar

Contract extension of Punatshangchhu-I employees after April will be decided on by the Human Resources Committee appointed by the office of the PHPA chairman.

There are about 809 PHPA-I employees on contract out of which 747 are Bhutanese and 62 are Indians and their term will expire on March 31, 2022. Though the contract has been extended several times, the matter is forwarded to PHPA chairman, Minister of Economic Affairs Loknath Sharma.  

The HR Committee comprises officers from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, and the Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC). 

The contract period for these employees was extended several times, the latest being until the end of March this year as an interim measure.

The contract employees are in both offices and in the fields at Bjimthangkha head office, the dam site, powerhouse site, gewathang quality control lab, workshop, and liaison offices in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Siliguri and Delhi. 

The PHPA Chairman Lyonpo Loknnath Sharma said that the committee has yet to present their findings. “The final call will be made by the chairman in consultation with the project authority. I hope that they will be able to present the findings before the second week of March.”

Owing to the pandemic and its immediate impact to the economy, the contract period for the employees was extended until December 2021 by the chairman.

“PHPA-I has completed most of its work and therefore a large pool of human resources is not required,” Lyonpo said.

He added that the project must bring down establishment costs.

“Those who can deliver and are willing can join the construction as there will be a requirement with the contractors both in PHPA-1 and II,” Lyonpo said.

Since 90 percent of the work is completed, there is an excess of employees, mainly at the supervisory and support levels.

Lyonpo said that all the employees are appointed for a fixed term of three years in the first instance, which can then be extended for two years or less based on the substantial completion of the project.

“No permanent employees have been recruited in the project. The recruitment of permanent employees will happen towards the completion of the project for the operation and maintenance by the succeeding agency and not by the project authority,” Lyonpo said.

There are 819 employees working with PHPA-I in total out of which 62 are from India.