MANAGEMENT APPEAL TO THE PHPA-I EMPLOYEES
Punatsangchhu-I Hydroelectric Project was started in November 2008 with an estimated cost of Nu 35.15 billion and initial time line of 7 years for its completion. As of today, the Project has already incurred an expenditure of more than Nu 83 billion. Thus, expenses under different heads of project cost estimates e.g. Establishment, Miscellaneous etc. have already far exceeded from the approved provisions due to time overrun. Project has meanwhile achieved an overall physical progress of about 87.49% with completion of HRT in 2015. Powerhouse Civil & Electro-mechanical works are under advanced stage of completion. Except Dam, most of the Contract packages have been completed or nearing completion.
Since most of the contract packages are already complete/nearing completion, there is very little work left (other than Dam) to be completed. Hence, continuing with existing huge establishment is exerting pressure on the both human resource and financial resource management. Accordingly, it was decided in the year 2019 to rationalize the manpower by engaging manpower only required to complete the balance works and maintain the completed project assets. Project proposal for retrenchment of manpower was initially firmed up in year 2020 which was however deferred by Competent Authority to avoid additional undue hardship brought in by COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, all are well aware that, this project is a time-bound venture with limited provision for costs and employees are hired on fixed term-contract basis only.
It is also evident and established that the revised cost estimate (RCE) approved in 2015 is unprecedented with cost & time overruns (escalation). Therefore, an attempt has been made to review the manpower requirement and rationalization exercise has been carried out by an independent external committee comprising of representative each from Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Human Resources and Druk Green Power Corporation.
Committee has submitted its Report and same was examined by the management. As per the Report, more than 315 posts were recommended for downsizing in a phased manner. While upon analyzing the workforce requirement, the restructuring activities have been considered in relation to carrying out the ongoing/balance work and the upcoming work with adequate manpower to be made available for smooth transition from construction phase to Operation & Maintenance phase. Consideration is also made to see that institutional memory is retained and knowledge transfer happens at all levels for reduced learning gap, especially during Operation & Maintenance stage. Management would like to inform and assure to the employees that the most transparent and rational process has been followed for retrenchment without any bias.
Based on the above considerations, manpower rationalization has been carried out by PHPA-I and about 275 employees are going to be retrenched in first phase due to reduced work load. Essential employees would be continued on further contract employment.
Despite having put in several years of service by the employees, their retrenchment has now become unavoidable. PHPA-I is thankful to all its employees for working tirelessly in taking this project to the stage where it has reached now. PHPA-I would also like to extend special gratitude to the outgoing employees for their understanding of the issue and graciously accepting the decision in the larger interest of the project.
Management will extend all possible support to its employees to tide over this crisis. Project shall facilitate for recruitment against any job openings with any other organization/Contractors. Employees requesting to retain the residential accommodation in the project township shall be allowed for a month. Whereas those employees having school going children studying in project area shall be allowed to retain their accommodation in Bjimthangkha till 31st December 2022. Facility of Project school bus services shall continue to be extended for affected employees until their children are sent on vacation in December 2022.
In light of the foregoing reasons, the reduction in manpower strength has become unavoidable. PHPA-I management would like to once again fully acknowledge and extend thanks for the dedication, hard work and sacrifices made by the employees over the past years during their association with the project.