Kelzang Wangchuk

Almost six months after a community in Samdrupcholing, Samdrupjongkhar, appealed to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to extend the time for them to procure earth moving equipment (EME) for coal mining works, the government stated it is helpless.

This, according to Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering is because the community could not procure the machines even after Druk Holding Investment (DHI) extended the deadline by 45 days.

During the meet the press session yesterday, he said the moment the community appealed to them, the PMO and economic affairs’ minister requested DHI.

He said DHI agreed and immediately wrote to the State Mining Corporation Limited’s (SMCL) chief executive officer to give them the time extension.

The community members formed a group to hire the EMEs to the State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL).  

Lyonchen said the prime minister (PMO) office got an appeal letter from the community in January requesting the time extension as they could not meet the deadline, adding that it would affect more than 1000 people in the community if the SMCL tender out.

He said the community had ordered the EMEs but could not bring them within the deadline, adding that they requested the time extension for 45 days and committed to fulfilling all the conditions within the deadline.

Lyonchen said the community still could not fulfil the already agreed conditions and got an appeal letter again asking for the time extension. “We indicated the DHI informally, but the DHI denied saying this is the third time and it’s affecting the business.”

He said that he had also explained the same to the community members who visited his office. “SMCL had followed the producers and norms, and the locals were executing the work.”

Since the SMCL had already tendered out the works, Lyonchen said the government is looking into how they could help the community members who have already invested in procuring the EMEs.

More than 1,000 people in the community formed the community contract and ordered the EMEs, but could not procure it within the deadline.

As per an appeal letter to the PMO on June 4, the requisitions and supports were given to the bidding contractors and community are vastly discriminating and unfair as the community was always overburdened and placidly conditioned.

The letter stated the Pedmi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited (PDKPL) ordered the EMEs from a  local company based on its assurances to help and support banking-related works and processing letter of credit (LC), adding that the PDKPL paid Nu 20 million (M) advance to the company. 

However, the company could not deliver the machines on time even after the PDKPL provided all the documents and correspondences required by the company. The letter to the PMO stated that the company hasn’t seriously worked on the banking procedures and process.

The letter stated that representing 4,187 shareholders, constituting 98.37 percent of the total households in the four gewogs and with money in hand and the expertise in the management, the PDKPL was confident to take up the hiring of EMEs in one of the two mining sites.

“The support and consideration would help not only the shareholders but also enhance uplifting of the socio-economic conditions of the communities in the drungkhag,” the letter stated.

Since it costs about Nu 250M for 27 machines and 22 ten-wheelers to cater to both the mining sites, Arjun Chamlagai, the PDKPL’s chairman, said the community had proposed the loan amount of Nu 125M. “But we do not have to avail a huge amount of loan to take up one mining site as it does not require more EMEs.”

Edited by Tashi Dema