Local government leaders in Trashiyangtse have requested the Kholongchhu project authority to provide more employment opportunities to local residents.

At the dzongkhag tshogdu last week, Khamdang gup, Norbu, said that the project during the first dzongkhag tshogdu had assured the members that it would offer employment opportunities to local residents.

“ It’s been almost two years since the project started and we do not see our people being employed at the rate it should have,” Norbu said.

He said that an understanding between the project and local residents was reached where if a resident loses his or her land to the project, members of the family would be recruited by the project. “This has not happened. Although we are being refunded by the project for the land, it is not the same as owning land.”

Today there are more than 70 class XII and about 100 class X graduates in Khamdang gewog. “Employing every individual in the dzongkhag irrespective of their qualifications will be wrong,” Norbu said. “All we want is the project to provide some kind of preference to our people who are in the hope to get a job at the project.”

The gup also said that the project had agreed to provide preference to local residents when it came to hiring vehicles for the project.

“While in the long run, the project would generate revenue for the country, during its initial phase it should also help in improving the local economy,” he said. “People of Yangtse should have some benefits of having the project here.”

Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited’s (KHEL) joint managing director, Kencho Dorji, said that since the project is in its initial phase and has not started with its main work such as the construction of the dam, surge shaft and powerhouse among others, recruitment for now is minimal.

He said that when it comes to recruitment of employees for the project, it has to be done according to the employment rules and regulations. “However, when it comes to supporting staff, the locals will have an edge because of proximity.”

He said that the project has been employing temporary staff as and when required and majority have been recruited from Trashiyangtse.

As a joint venture project, the KHEL today has 51 regular and 52 temporary Bhutanese staff and 12 Indian employees.

As for hiring of vehicles, Kencho Dorji, said, that a vehicle hiring policy will be discussed and adopted during the project review meeting soon.

Currently the project hires vehicles at a certain rate that is tendered ahead of the actual hiring. “We can hire vehicles only when there is a need. As we start our main project work, the requirement of the vehicle would also increase,” he said.

Kencho Dorji said that the vehicle hiring policy will be based on tender but certain preference will be given to local residents. For example, if two similar vehicles from Yangtse and Mongar with identical requirements are available, the former will be hired. Of the 23 vehicles hired so far, 17 are from Trashiyangtse.

Meanwhile, about 30km of access road is under construction at the project site. Almost 50 percent of the work on the two bailey bridges across Kholongchhu for project connectivity is completed.

The project has completed the documentation of three policy documents and work on acquiring land for the project. The official deadline of the project is February 2021.

Younten Tshedup | Trashiyangtse