Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finally, Some Good News: I

I am not sure that my fellow Drups have been paying attention - but there have been a spat of good news that have been doing the rounds in recent times. By no means in the scale of the devastating news of the Wangdue-Trongsa road widening project – but good news nonetheless, and long overdue too!

For those of you who missed them, let me list them out for you.

First in the series, let me start with the latest: an inconspicuous report in the Kuensel of yesterday: 4th May, 2015 that is headlined “Another milestone for MHPA”. Part of the news report says:

“In concreting the foundation of the dam, which will block the Mangdechu and divert it through the tunnels, chief engineer, Karma Chophel, said about 0.45 million cubic metres or 80,460 truckloads of cement would be poured to build the dam, a piece of good news for marketless Dungsam cement.”

So why does this qualify as a good news worthy of space in my Blog? Very simple:

For the first time one hydro-power construction project in Bhutan is actually going to use cement produced in Bhutan!!

I hear that other projects - such as Punasangchu I & II are not buying Bhutanese cement. For that matter, market report has it that they don't even buy vegetables from our local vendors. They import them by the truckloads on a daily basis from Birpara and other Indian border towns. Neither do these projects buy sand and stone chips from Bhutanese miners - with the net result that 4 of the Bhutanese miners have gone bust, loosing hundreds of millions in the process.

By the way, the Kuensel is so grossly mistaken when it writes “marketless Dungsam Cement”. It is not that Dungsam Cement has no market - they have a market way beyond their capacity to meet the demand!!

Their problem is that they have been denied their just market - Bhutanese hydro-power construction projects. Now, if the Kuensel news can be trusted, Dungsam Cement is finally going to see the light of day.

Dungsam Cement Project was initiated in 1982. For reasons that are not common knowledge, the project never really took off as envisaged. It got bogged down for one reason or the other. Three to four CEO’s changed even before the factory’s foundations were laid. The project was a pet project of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo who intended it for the benefit of His subjects in the East.

After 32 years of its initial start and at a staggering cost of Nu.10.5 billion, the Dungsam Cement finally came into production in January of 2014. Its current installed capacity is more than 4,000 MT of cement and 3,000 MT of clinker, per day, using state-of-the-art technology from Germany.

In all likelihood, if Kuensel report is to be believed, MHPA is going to stand out as the hydropower project that has been completed in the shorted period of construction time. Great! Then some celebration is in order.

The late Mr. G N Rao - one time Managing Director of Chukha Hydropower Project - worked in Bhutanese hydropower projects from 1977 to 2000 - all of 23 years. The CHP suffered full completion delay of close to 10 years. The Government of India awarded him Padma Shri medal for distinguished contribution, in 1992. He was awarded the Druk Thuksey in 1999.

The Punasangchu I & II has seen endless “geological surprises” and cost overruns in the billions - almost three times its initial projection as of date, and the projects are no where near completion. Its reigning Managing Director Mr. R N Khazanchi was awarded Druk Thuksey in 2012. In all provability the Government of India will award him the ultimate civilian honor by conferring on him the title of Bharat Ratna - Jewel of India.

So then, tell me, why wouldn't Mr. A K Mishra, Managing Director of MHPA deserve a medal of achievement?

Boss, kuch toh banta hai!

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