Mining our business

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.


Facebook Comments:


  1. Dear OL,
    Here I am with you. It is illegal to issue mining licences to the PHPA and even more illegal to allow it to lease the mining rights to L&T, HCC and Gammon India. What is the Economics Ministry thinking?

    I am glad that you have taken up the issue with the ACC. However, keep pushing the issue.

  2. Are you not fed up of the inactions of the ACC on all of the reports that you have made?
    This ACC is DPT run organisation which is used to scare, terrorise and fix up PDP supporters.

    Ironically, is not the alleged mining scam the classic example of how DPT has used ACC to fix up PDP supporters?

  3. Hats off to you Mr.OL!!!We need more MPs like you………..

  4. I hear that all rules have been flaunted, to accomodate the Indian contractors, who are making full use of this advantage to make more revenue gains for themselves and sadly,at the espense of our own people.I don’t know whether ‘this be the truth’, but it is said thatthey are making payment for services in stone aggregates to our own people. Also, I hear that they are extracting stones from areas that were prohibited to our people. Can anyone throw some light to the veracity of my hearsay observations.
    Tenzing Lamsang did some sort of a story on the Punatsangchu mining areas.He however, failed to see the real underlying problems and only wrote what was fed to him.Not a good way to earn credits for a ‘spunky’young reporter….so I thought!.
    We are indeed grateful to the GOI for this partnership but certainly not to the contractors who are here to make money and that should also not be at the expense of our own people.

  5. Things are not as straightforward as they seem. Dear OL do you think that our DPT government is not aware that it is against our Mining regulations? Of course they do. But how else can they reward DPT supporters if the regulations are followed? Through Gammon, L&T, and HCC DPT supporters will be operating the mines, as has been happening with the entire Punatsangchhu Project. Wait, watch, and see…. Things have become so blatant that the liaison officer for Gammon etc Duptho Rinzin (spokesperson of DPT)has been heard commenting “How come PDP supporters are getting work in Punatsangcchu”. Although a DPT supporter myself, I am against such divisive comments and unfair practices. Irrespective of who won the elections, regulations cannot be side-stepped to reward active and vocal party supporters. Though 2/3rds of us silently supported and voted for DPT, it is only the vocal and visible supporters who are benefiting.

  6. Dear OL,

    Mining in Bhutan is not a easily accessible to the common people. My father is a miner himself and i know the trouble that he is taking to get a mining lease. He regularly visits to the DGM office just to be informed that his mine is pending. While on the other, the people at the DGM is busy surveying the mines for the higher/richer lot. Its happening and is a sad situation. Rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer is what is happening in the land of GNH. I wonder if anyone who is a follower of this Hon’le OL’s blog show me a way to look for a job(even janitor) in US or some european country. I want to leave for good and earn more, more enough to support my family of just the basic necessities and their education. Life has become hard and difficult.

    I pray and hope that the income disparity and inequalities in the wealth does not become a issue of conflict and put our GNH kingdom in great threat.

  7. Dear OL,
    I am glad that you took this matter to ACC. Every weekend i go home to Daga Geog, i hear about new activities taking place along the Punatsangchu area. Is it fact HCC, L&T and Gammon are getting permission to mine, I think it should be looked into. Did they ever followed the Acts, Rules and Regulations and Policies for Sustainable natural resources of GNH country?
    Since it is a project, the Indian companies will mine and bring down whole scared mountain and leave the country without benefiting even a single Bhutanese.
    If ACC and the government dont stop such practice from now, the future contractors who will work for the Hydro power projects will demand for mines.
    As far as i am concerned, there isn’t any benefit from now as they are not renting our houses for their office or whatever as they build the pre fabricated house and will dismental at the end of the day and take away. How will it benefit in large? As of now the only benefit for my village people is selling extra vegetables.

  8. I won’t be surprised if Anticorruption commission didn’t care to follow up!. Afterall, all they do is just catch small fishes!, ACC stinks

  9. Dear OL,
    Pardon me, this is not related to mining but rather a bizarre topic.

    Is the Government panicking over the upcoming SAARC Summit in the Country?

    From what I read in Kuensel, the government is acting like they are having a cold feet already. First, tour operators were asked to vacate hotel rooms of their guests in Thimphu to Punakha and Paro. Now Kuensel reports that there is this strange rule of allowing traffic on alternating days depending on their odd or even license numbers.
    From my understanding, Bhutan had a very, very long time to prepare for this very upcoming occasion.
    Is there a such thing as a Police Escort and Motorcade in our country? Sure, heavy traffic can be an inconvenience and a security concern to our dignitaries. But should the restrictions go as far as putting the ordinary lives to a complete halt? This is beginning to sound like the Russian legend of Potemkin Village. What are we trying to hide from the dignitaries anyway?

  10. Dear TOJT,

    I sympathize with you. Our government should be for the people, not against the people. I know some fellow citizen living and working abroad to support their families and old parents back home. It’s heartbreaking to learn that some Bhutanese women work abroad looking after other’s children in order to support their own children back home. Unemployment and lack of opportunity for ordinary people and youth is the most pressing problem in our country now.

  11. OL-la,
    Sorry,I meant to comment on your another article”Traditional women”. Could you please delete it. Thanks

  12. I agree with some on the point about preferential treatment. It is happening underground but also done openly in some organisations. Land transaction case is one for example. Some people visit countless times but things move at a slow speed. Some surveys are done within short periods. There is unethical practice in the procedural part and this needs to be investigated, not only on the monetary part as time lost is money and unequal treatment and discrimination based on power and authority is even a crime.

  13. It’s a big issue. There ought to be explaination from the Government on how they to bend the existing laws.

    I would like to appreciate the concern shown by the Hon’ble OL. Let’s hope that the ACC will take the matter up as soon as possible.

  14. I hear the ACC is asking questions on this. This means they have taken OL’s concerns seriously. It is a good sign.

  15. Dorji Tshering P says


    Please follow up on this, We must stop our government when they are selling our country to outside companies.

    I anyone is going to mine in Bhutan it should be the Bhutanese people/companies.

    DPT what the hell are you up to. I am disgusted with you people.


  1. […] this year, in “Mining our business”, I’d explained why it would be unlawful for the government to permit L&T, Gammon and HCC to […]

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