The process is into its sixth year

Service: The residents of Pemagatshel are still waiting for a new fuel station equipped with a fuel dispenser and one that is closer to town.

There are around 300 vehicles in Pemagatshel that use the current fuel station located 5km from town in Kheri Gonpa.

Fuel at the station is stored in 200 litre plastic barrels.

An attendant manually fuels vehicles using 25 litre jerry cans. A cloth piece on a funnel serves as a filter.

However, many drivers, both local and visiting, are skeptical about the quality of fuel available at the station.

Many pointed out that much time has to be spent waiting when a truck has to be refueled at the station.

A resident, Tshering Penjore, said it was high time Pemagatshel has a new petrol station as not only the population but number of vehicles have increased.

“It’s so risky to use fuel from barrels everyday and this might damage our engine especially diesel cars because if diesel is mixed with dust or water, it gets damaged,” he said.

However, there have been no reports of vehicles sustaining damage so far.

Another resident from Nangkor, which is 18km from Khenri Gonpa said there are many who bring fuel in jerry cans from the fuel station in Samdrupjongkhar. The station is located 100km from Pemagatshel.

Many residents said that they have been hearing that the station would be relocated to Denchi, Pemagatshel’s new township, but neither the town nor the pump has materialised.

However, the trade department has proposed to establish a new fuel station with fuel dispenser, but the Bhutan Oil Corporation (BOC) is yet to find an ideal spot.

To identify a site for the fuel station, dialogue has been ongoing for the past six years.

This is because even if approved a site needs to be identified before any fuel station can be established, officials said.

Samdrupjongkhar BOC manager Dhendup Tshering said to have a dispenser pump requires an underground tank with a capacity of 20,000 litres and that such space is not available at the present station.

“Otherwise our proposal is all ready and Indian Oil Corporation has also agreed to supply the equipment but the only problem is there are no land available,” Dhendup Tshering said. “We’ve been looking for all the possible areas including Denchi but no feasible site has been identified so far.”

The manager added that at least half an acre of land is required.

“After approval we even went to Denchi about a week ago again but almost all the areas identified are either hilly or marshy areas,” he said. “And incase we don’t find one then the depot will be far from Denchi town but we’re trying to find an ideal place, soon.”

Dhendup Tshering also said that they make sure the oil is clean and dust cannot settle on the oil or water vapour does not form throughout the season.

“Residents will have to continue with the present depot until new location is identified,” he said.

A total of 10,000 litres of petrol, 30,000 litres of diesel and 500 LPG cylinders are supplied every month to the Pemagatshel fuel station.

Meanwhile, the trade department has also approved two more fuel stations in Jomotsangkha and Samdrupcholing dungkhags and work is expected to begin by next month.

Jomotsangkha is about 179km via the Assam highway from Samdrupjongkhar and Samdrupcholing is 69km from Samdrupjongkhar.

Yangchen C Rinzin,   Samdrupjongkhar