Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Chief Representative, Koji Yamada, awarded the first JICA Chief Representative Award to Phub Dorji, who has served as the operator of Tangsibji mini hydel pant for more than 30 years. Fifty-two-year-old Phub Dorjifrom Yangsibji in Trongsa has been working at the Mini hydel for 30 years and still continues to do.

“I feel so privileged to receive the ever first award today and it motivates me to work harder,” he said.

He said that he could not pursue his studies after class eight due to some problems and he looked for a government job. “I have no regrets for staying back in the village since I could serve the people of my community.”

Phub Dorji started to work as caretaker at the mini hydel in 1987 after completing class eight from the then Trongsa Junior high school, Sherubling Central School today.

He said the local leaders were looking for an educated person in the village to operate and look after the plant and there were only two of them. “Both of us got the opportunity, but my friend resigned to start his own business.”

Phub Dorji now works as an assistant technician with Bhutan Power Corporation after he was regularised sometime in 2008. He is based in Tangsibji. He reads meter and does line patrolling. He follows up with bills and does maintenance work.

“Two of us were not paid salary but were asked to collect Nu 2 per bulb per house from the village,” he said. That was their earning until they got into payroll under the Department of Power.

He said he is happy and that he could live in his village and work.

“I consider it a rare chance,” he said.

Koji Yamada said that Phub Dorji is the first recipient of the award and the award will continue hereafter. He said that JICA has three criteria for the award and Phub Dorji fulfilled all three.

According to the criteria, someone who lives in his village inspite of heavy rural-urban migration, someone who has worked with long-term commitment and someone working in the interest of Japan’s development in the country is deserving of the award.

Koji Yamada said that through his experience it is very difficult to retain Bhutanese employees working in the Japan-Bhutan technical cooperation projects.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa