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Crusher Plants in precarious situation

Tenzin Lhaden

With business being on hold for more than two months, some of crusher plant owners in Sarpang are unhappy with the current precarious situation.

Crusher owners purchase stone boulders along the allotted riverbed from Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited (NRDCL) and pay royalty to Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) before 2 months when the business was in swing.

Now, when DoFPS has stopped allowing the crusher business owners to collect raw materials from the riverbed, this has brought crusher plant to halt which has impacted negatively to their businesses.

โ€œStaffs are left without any work, loan needs to be paid and we are in huge difficulty. We approached to the department of forest in Sarpang range and forestry director in Thimphu, but received no positive replyโ€, said Yeshi Tenzin, General Manager of Mindu Crusher in Gelephu.

Pema Dorji, RL Crusher expressed about how they are struggling with business not being able to run. โ€œWe are all helpless and are in affliction. Crusher plants are installed with loan money and all of us have loans to pay.We have loan installment to pay and some of the machineries used at the plant are hired and we need to pay for it as well. Moreover, we have both Indian and Bhutanese staff and it is really difficult to give them their salaries. We have actually come to a standstill with no work,โ€ he asserted.

โ€œBoth NRDCL and DoFPS is not permitting the crusher owners to lift boulder stones, it maybe because NRDCL have finished their terms with DoFPS and they have not resolved the way forward which is affecting all the crusher plants without the raw-materialsโ€, said Lobzang Tshering, Aampaa International Export.

Some of the crusher owners also complain of the Royalty being expensive when same river runs to India depositing stone boulders along the riverbed, these people crush the stones without any royalty making Bhutanese stones expensive to compete. Sonam Pelber Ringzin, one of the crusher unit owners said, โ€œRoyalty is expensive. While exporting, they pay royalty of Nu.4000 to NRDCL before. If we export 10 trucks of stone to India, we have to pay Nu.40,000 royalty to NRDCL.โ€

Currently, especially in Gelephu, NRDCL do not have site. โ€œWe donโ€™t supply or sell any materials to the crushing plant although we export the raw materials,โ€ said Sushila, Officiating General Manager, NRDCL.

Kinley Tshering, DoFPS said, โ€œBefore when NRDCL supply the materials, the loading and machine were provided by the NRDCL and charges were borne by buyers, but now when DoFPS is supplying, we do have machines for loading, nevertheless, the demand for materials has not decreased.โ€

However, Kinley Tshering said that they have put this issue to technical advisory committee on October 19, 2022. Where committee has endorsed interim price which has been submitted to the Ministry for approval.

Lobzang Tshering said that with crushing business being on hold, the country has lost 64 lakh in 1 month from more than 25 crusher plants because per crusher Nu.19000 was given to the government in a day while calculating in average. โ€œIf government leaves the reserve price and give stones to the crusher and exporter, we can sell all the stones that are in the border area. So when we sell, we can give reserve price to the government, and while we export, the tax can be paid yearly which will benefit the government,โ€ Lobzang added.

Tandin Gyeltshen, one of the crusher plant owners said, โ€œIf there is any merit from what I heard that the riverbed (boulders) will be auctioned then, and if we do not secure the bid, we will be left at the mercy of the bid winner which could lead to escalation of price for the boulders. He further added, โ€œThe government is looking at maximizing the profit at the expenses of small businesses. With this model, a few bidders with money will eventually benefit but not everyone in general. The government should look into equitable distribution of the national resources which will benefit many and through regulated taxation, which government should benefit, it should be win-win situation for the government and as well as businessesโ€.

Department of Forests and Park Services has already put-up riverbed auctioning and sites are being assessed for auctioning.

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