Most of the work at the Punatsangchu hydropower project, estimated to cost more than Nu 36 billion, is being contracted out to large Indian companies. And rightfully so. After all, we still don’t have enough in-house capacity to dig tunnels, erect dams and build powerhouses.
But mining? For stone? Now that, I’m sure we can all agree, is something we are good at!
Then why is the government allowing Indian companies – L&T, HCC and Gammon – to operate stone quarries for the Punatsangchu hydropower project?
And how will L&T, HCC and Gammon operate their mines when the Mines and Minerals Management Regulations 2002 clearly defines the eligibility to obtain a mining lease as:
Any Bhutanese individual, licensed firm or a company shall be eligible to obtain a mining lease.
To be doubly sure that only Bhutanese companies operate our mines, the Mines and Minerals Management Regulations goes on to define “company” as:
Any organization registered under the Companies Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2000.
I’ve reported the matter to the Anticorruption Commission.