… exporters ask authorities to establish legal trade route

Choki Wangmo | Dagana

Exporters in Dagana refused to participate in the boulder auctions conducted in Lhamoidzingkha drungkhag recently.

The auctions were for boulder export from Homa Khola and Pagli Khola in Karmaling gewog.

According to exporters, it was a loss to participate in any auctions as the cost of exporting and transportation boulders would be higher than the financial returns.

An exporter, Dilip Mukhia, said that the sites were not viable as it is located 29kms away from Lhamoidzingkha town.

“It would cost not less than Nu 7,000 a trip to transport the boulders,” he said, adding that the private exporters would not be able to compete with two Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited’s (NRDCL) sites in Lhamoidzingkha gewog.

“Given the close proximity to town, NRDCL can transport at Nu 1,900,” he said.

He said that the exporters were discouraged to participate at Pagli auction as there are no boulders at the identified site.

Lhamoidzingkha gup, Surja Bahadur Limbu, said that as trade route is not legal except for mandarin exports during harvest season, exporters were not interested in boulder auctions.

“Earlier, some exporters visited the site but no one was interested. The reserve price was less too,” he said. “If the trade route is not opened, people will be discouraged.”

According to an exporter, they had been requesting authorities to open a formal trade route to India from Lhamoidzingkha for many years, but no one listened to them.

Gup Surja Bahadur Limbu said the gewog even appealed to higher authorities, but nothing could be accomplished yet.

Currently, cash crops such as ginger, cardamom, and areca nut are either exported through Gelephu or Phuentsholing at a higher transportation cost.

According to the gup, if the auction sites were at Kalikhola and Sunkosh river, exporters might show interest. “The dredging in these two rivers would reduce the risk of flooding during monsoon.”

Meanwhile, residents live in fear of being washed away by the swelling river every monsoon.

Some residents claimed the risk has increased in recent years with their farmlands getting washed away annually.

They said retention walls are also of little use against huge debris.