Habrang Coal Mine to benefit few, appeals PM for time extension

Puran Gurung/ Thimphu The four gewogs in Samdrup Jongkhar claims, the Habrang Coal Mine is not benefitting the communities, labelling it ‘policy corruption’ because the principal mining agent, State Mining Corporation Limited of Habrang Coal Mine is formulating policies only to benefit few. To seek time extension for procuring the earth moving machineries for the coal mining project, which will be hired by State Mining Corporation Limited, the community of the four gewogs- Phuentshothang, Pemathang, Martshala and Samrang in Samdrup Jongkhar operating as Pemi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited is running post to pillar for time extension. In the appeal letter to the Prime Minister, the representatives of the community of four gewogs, it states ‘the requisition and support given to bidding contractors and community are vastly discriminating and unfairly as community always being overburdened and placidly conditioned whereas contractor being highly favoured and the conditions given to public are constantly altering the appeal is made to SMCL or other related agencies’. The delay in procuring the machineries was also exacerbated by the agent supplying the machineries. The appeal letter states ‘after spot quotation we had awarded the tender to TCD Private Limited based on its assurances to help and support in banking related works and LC processing with collateral back up and the committee members due to lack of smooth travel facilities owing to seven-days quarantine and limited time frame entrusted the work to TCD and disbursed margin money amounting to Nu. 20 million as the company insisted and pressurised, however, the company failed to supply the machineries and later it was found that the company hasn’t seriously worked on the banking procedures and processes. Another one, the appeal letter states, the difference of cost between the requisition of SMCL on 4th September, 2020 and 6th February, 2021 comes to around sixty million ngultrum that poses huge impact on already abject financial conditions caused by the pandemic on overall capital investment. We have written several letters and physically approached to Druk Holdings and Investment and State Mining Corporation Limited for reconsideration and the time extension but to no avail’. The community of the four gewogs are only looking for time extension to procure the earth moving machineries, one of the major requirement set by State Mining Corporation Limited to involve the community the four gewogs. “Even to procure a bolero pick-up truck, it takes about three to four months, there is no possibility to procure 29 excavators and 22 new wheel loaders in the same time. All we seek is time extension and we were only given a 45-day time extension,” states a representative This policy corruption, a reliable source claims, it is affecting more than 400 individuals of the four gewogs of Phuentshothang, Pemathang, Martshala and Samrang in Samdrup Jongkhar operating as Pemi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited and states, ‘it is purely a policy corruption’ and that the intent of State Mining Corporation Limited has come to light to benefit a handful of investors. To involve the community of the four gewogs in Samdrup Jongkhar, State Mining Corporation Limited was to hire the earth moving equipment and transport that the community of the four gewogs will procure. Adding to it, there were also many other provisions that Pemi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited had to fulfil. SMCL laid provisions such as the private company to have majority of shareholders and from all the households of the four gewogs, and they had to raise money from selling shares. The source states that ‘the provisions of the policy was written so that it would keep our community away from the mining activity and to get any benefits from the project’. Additionally, State Mining Corporation Limited provisioned Pemi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited was to procure 29 excavators and 22 new wheel loaders and the people of the community has made signed an agreement with the dealers to get the machineries. The winning bidders too couldn’t obtain the loan and unlike PDKPL, the time extension has been repeatedly provided to them, it was extended to June 15 from April 15, 2021 and the representatives of 4187 shareholders are confident to take up hiring of EMEs in one of the two sites. Meanwhile, the money amounting to Nu. 20 million disbursed to TCD Pvt. Ltd. earlier is assured to be refunded once the lockdown in Phuentsholing is lifted. This money would add to the private company’s credit liquidating capacity with less outflow of income on debts and liabilities and risk reduction factor. They also proposed in the appeal letter to take up additional sites not only the existing but also other viable sites in the upcoming years with heightened capacity both in manpower, skill and finance if SMCL grants them the opportunity. However, State Mining Corporation Limited disagreed on partial fulfilment of the provisions fulfilled by the private company, Pemi Dejung Kuenphen Private Limited. Habrang Coal Mine has a total area of the leasehold is 105.62 acres with average production capacity of 40,000 to 45,000 MT/annum with 10 years of lease period. The supply of coal (sub-bituminous) will focus 15 to 20 per cent for domestic supply.