Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

The two mega hydroelectric projects, Punatsangchhu I and II may have their own problems in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has come to the rescue of 24 people who lost their source of livelihood.

The two projects in Wangduephodrang employed the 24 drayang workers who lost their jobs after the closure of entertainment centres in Bajo town. PHPA I employed 14 and PHPA II took in 10 upon request from the dzongkhag administration office.

According to PHPA management officials, the 24 former draying workers would be paid Nu 7,500 a month, which is a little more than the national minimum wage rate of Nu 234 per day. The employees also avail the projects’ bus services to drop and pick them for work.

An ex-employee of a drayang in Wangdue, Namgang Tshering said they requested the dzongkhag to engage them in some kind of jobs. “I have a family and this income has helped me a lot. We are also planning to do volunteer works for the dzongkhag for helping us,” he said.

The employees had also requested the PHPA management to increase the pay to Nu 300 per day, which was likely to be approved. All the 24 employees are recipients of the Nu 12,000 monthly relief kidu.

The employees are engaged in housekeeping and in lighter works of preservation activities of the electro-mechanical works at the projects.

Dzongkhag senior planning officer, Passang Dorji said a random survey conducted in the dzongkhag found that employees of entertainment centres were affected the most due to Covid-19.

He added that immediately after the entertainment centres were closed, the dzongkhag took initiative to find out people who had lost their jobs.

“We called PHPA who were willing to help. We found out that the work would include physical work and called in only interested people.”

Wangdue dzongkhag was also willing to provide jobs to the remaining employees who were not taken in at PHPA.

Passang Dorji said that dzongkhag planned to engage those who lost their jobs in dzongkhag’s beautification activities. “However, they were not interested.”

Kinley Wangmo, 26, a beneficiary, said the temporary employment has come as a great help. Being the eldest in the family and with the rent due, she said that finding a job was necessary. “My younger sister who also works at a drayang and her husband working in a bar both lost their job,” Kinley said.

The employees will work at PHPA for three months. “As referred by dzongkhag administration, PHPA has engaged them based on greater social considerations especially during such a difficult time being faced by our people,” an official from the PHPA II management said.