Dechen Dolkar 

Contract has been extended for the employees of Punatshangchhu-I Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA-I) by another one month, until end of this month.

There are 794 employees on contract—739 Bhutanese and 53 Indians.

The contract period for these employees was extended several times, the latest being until the end of June this year, as an interim measure from March end.

The contract employees are in both offices and in the fields at Bjimthangkha head office, the dam site, powerhouse site, Gewathang quality control lab, workshop, and liaison offices in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Siliguri, and Delhi.

The Joint Managing Director (JMD) of PHPA-I, Karma Tshewang, said that after rationalisation of the employees, contract for some would be extended till December end this year.

“Currently, authority is in the process of rationalising the employees,” he said.

As of May 2022, 87.4 percent of physical work was completed.

Karma Tshewang said that considering substantial completion of the project works and upon the advice of the project authority, an external committee was engaged to review the manpower requirements to complete the balance works and transition to the testing and commissioning stage of the project in keeping with the revised cost estimate (RCE) approved by Government of India in July 2015.

However, he said that for those employees who have children studying, the authority would look into the possibilities.

In the earlier interview, it was also pointed out that there are excess employees mainly at the supervisory and support levels and a few at the engineers’ level in the powerhouse circle, civil infrastructure division, contracts and procurement circle and environment circle.

Karma Tshewang said that there are employees whose promotion has to be granted before any excess can be determined.

He said that in order to complete the promotion and then work out on redundancies, the authority had to give a one-month extension.

After the end of the contract term, they will be given benefits in keeping with the extant Service Rules.

According to the budget report for the financial year 2022-23, the PHPA-I is expected to be commissioned by 2026.

PHPA-I was initially expected to be commissioned in March 2025 with the current Revised Estimated Cost (REC) of Nu 93,755.750M (March 2013 Price Level).