English | Dzongkha Friday, June 18, 2021

Construction activities in Zhemgang hampered in the absence of a quarry

May 14, 2021

Without a quarry in the district, the construction sector in Zhemgang is facing short of stone and stone aggregates. This has hampered the timely completion of the construction works in the district.

Currently, most of the contractors in Zhemgang buy stone aggregates from Trongsa to carry out major construction works in the district including construction roads, drains and walls which require a large quantity of stone and stone aggregates.

Tandin Wangchuk, a contractor in Zhemgang said the shortage of stones at the construction sites hampers the completion of works. “The forest officials wouldn’t allow us to collect stones from along the roads either,” he said.

“For quality work and finishing, we must have quality stones. But we don’t get that here. So we cannot produce quality work. Moreover, it is taking too long because of the unavailability of stones,” added Yonten.

The district started facing a shortage of stone and stone aggregates for construction activities since 2015 after the Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited’s (NRDCL) quarry and crusher plant in the district was shut down after it failed to compete with private suppliers with many quarries coming up in the neighbouring districts. The NRDCL also had an issue with the contractor who was awarded the contract works to extract stones from the quarry. The NRDCL auctioned the plant to a private individual who built a smaller plant in the same location but that can barely meet the local demands.

“The NRDCL’s crusher plant was sold to a man who set up a small private crusher plant in the same location. But his crusher plant is too small to meet local demands. Moreover, the plant breaks down frequently and we do not get the material we want. So we have bought a crushing plant from Yumrong in Trongsa which is quite expensive but we have to bear it to finish our work on time. Now things have become very difficult for us,” said Sherub Jamtsho, a contractor.

The operator of the plant says the plant is non-functional most days due to the unavailability of skilled workers and difficulty in procuring the machine’s spare parts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the contractors even suggested that constructing a new crusher plant in the district would help solve the issue. “The main issue is we do not have a quarry to extract stones. To date, we crush stones stored or left by the NRDCL. Having a quarry here will solve the issue because then we will be able to produce aggregates. The only issue that I can foresee However, we could face market issues if a quarry is built here,” said Sangay Gembo who operates the crusher plant at Hoomdar.

“We should discuss among the stakeholders and build a crushing plant here. That would benefit us and would even generate revenue for the government,” added Dawa Gyeltshen from Shingkhar, Zhemgang.

However, the Zhemgang Divisional Forest Office said that the office cannot issue a license to private individuals to operate quarry until NRDCL’s license obtained in 2011 expires. The NRDCL’s license, according to the Divisional Forest Office, is valid until 2023.

Meanwhile, the NRDCL’s Regional Office in Bumthang said that discussion is ongoing among the stakeholders to decide whether to restart the NRDCL’s plant or keep it suspended further.

Pema Samdrup, Zhemgang

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