Rajesh Rai | Samtse

While the people of Samtse are pinning hope in the Dhamdum Industrial Park (DIP) to bring historic economic benefits, the park which is almost six years into development, is yet to show growth.

From the nine industries approved for construction by the end of 2020, only two are operational today.

One is Druk Textile.

The industry manufactures fabrics primarily for school uniforms across the country.

Its proprietor, Tshering Dhendup, said it has been a month since the company started production.

“But we are also still setting up the machines,” he said, adding that the parts are not easily available and it took time to import the parts via transport companies.

On the market front, Tshering Dhendup said he had dialogues with the tailors’ association in the country.

“We are in the negotiation phase. It is being done through the labour ministry,” he said. “Once this is done, we will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and start supplying fabrics across the country.”

Construction of a furniture house, Pallavi Furniture, has also been completed.

“We started operating in December 2021,” the owner, Pralad Gurung said.

However, Pallavi Furniture is already facing some electrical issues.

“We have been given a temporary line which is not enough to run my plant,” he said. “We have not been able to work properly.”

Pralad Gurung said he has been paying loans from his own pocket. From the eight staff, four have left.

Karma Chime, promoter of Bhutan Mountain Coffee (BMC), another industry at the park, said the construction of the plant would be completed by the end of this year or by spring next year.

“It got delayed due to labour shortage and high cost of raw materials,” he said. “But we started the construction.”

However, Karma Chime said the construction has been stopped at present due to the monsoon.

BMC is a coffee processing establishment and it will buy coffee from farmers across the country. It also has its own coffee plantation in Samtse.

According to the department of industries (DoI), ministry of economic affairs, a total of 68 provisional letters of interest were issued for DIP. Out of this, four applicants are in the process of getting project approval and industrial licence.

A total of 15 promoters have been issued land lease certificates but they are yet to visit the Samtse dzongkhag administration for execution of the Lease Agreement. Another 15 promoters have already signed Lease Agreement but they have not submitted design and drawings for construction.

Drawings of 23 promoters were approved but they have not started construction yet.

An official from the DoI said everything has been facilitated from the ministry’s side for the promoters to start the construction.

“However, most of the promoters are not able to start the construction due to non-sanction of loans from financial institutions and this holds them back in starting the construction,” the official said.

“Furthermore, the construction of industries is impacted due to increase in raw material costs and limited skilled labour.”

On the power disruption, the DoI official said it was because of the monsoon, which may have affected the power supply.

“However, the Dhamdum Estate Management Office is in close consultation with Samtse BPC Office to restore the power supply when there is disruption. The Estate Office also facilitates power to each and every promoter who starts their construction.”

The park development that kicked off in August 2016 is yet to be completed.

Initially, Dhamdum Industrial Park had an area of 349 acres which was later reduced to 342 acres to accommodate the re-alignment of the new Samtse-Phuentsholing highway.

The industrial park is physically divided into three pockets, A, B and C.

As per the DoI, Pocket A is almost developed except for some portion of the water distribution network. In Pocket C, 85 percent of development work has been completed.

“In the first phase, only these two pockets are being developed as per the detailed project report,” the DoI official said.

The park is expected to be completed with basic infrastructures such as roads, water supply and its distribution network, street lighting, and footpaths by December 2022 in Pocket A and C.