Attractive incentives and basic facilities will be introduced

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Over 170 management staff of the Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project II (PII) are today engaged with manual work at various sites—dam and machine hole in powerhouse among others.

The initiative is to narrow the work progress gap that has been created due to lack of workers.

Until last month, 1,351 Indian workers of PII left for India and an additional 300 have also submitted their applications to leave.

There is a requirement of at least 2,700 workers at PII.

While efforts to recruit Bhutanese and to bring in Indian workers continue, the management staff has volunteered to continue the work.

“This is our project and we depend on it for an income. It needs us right now, so I volunteered to do the work,” Pema Tshewang, finance officer, who works at the machine hole in the powerhouse said.

The staff began manual work on September 29 and would continue for at least a week.

Another 100 management staff have also volunteered to continue work in the next week.

PII management has 871 workers—19 are of Indian national.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma visited the project site on Thursday and met with the management staff.

“This is already happening in Tangsibji (Nikachu Hydroelectric Project). PII and Tangsibji projects are the most promising projects we have. And we don’t want to lose a single day, which could cost millions in revenue for the government,” he said.

The PII project is expected to be completed in June 2022.

“At this time, because of the pandemic, economy has been hit hard and we need to immediately revive and re-bounce our economy,” lyonpo said.

Similar initiative will also be replicated in the Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project I  (PI). Today, the workers are provided with transportation services from the management. Meals are provided by contractors.


New Bhutanese recruits

Within the coming week, Bhutanese can also expect vacancies with minimal requirements at PII.

A helpdesk will also be setup to help the process of recruitment.

According to PII Joint Managing Director (JMD) Thinley Dorji, around 2,700 workers were required at the site today.

While the government has been trying to recruit Indian and Bhutanese workers, the process has been proven difficult.

Yesterday alone, over 140 Indian workers were supposed to fly from India for PII work. However, only 47 could come, who will require spending 21 days in the quarantine facility.

Earlier, the PII management announced 268 vacancies for skilled and non-skilled Bhutanese workers. While the management received 156 applications, only 22 agreed to work with the project after seeing the project site. A few joined later. The vacancies were apart from those announced by the contractors.

Lyonpo said that the management would now ensure improved mess and accommodation facilities to bring in more Bhutanese workers.

The management is also working on better career and cash incentives for those who join work at PII. “DHPS and the management are directly involved and we will employ youth and ensure that the work is secure,” lyonpo said.

On-the-job training for around four weeks with guidance from the skilled workers would also be initiated.


APA signed

Annual performance agreements (APA) were also signed between the management and project chairman yesterday.

Signing of APA in hydroelectric projects was introduced for the first time in the fiscal year 2019-2020.

In the last fiscal year, PII achieved 100 percent target.

Lyonpo said that PI achieved around 87 percent of its target. “I don’t blame them because there were some geological issues.”