Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Construction of Hydro Power Plants In Bhutan: The Perks of working - Anthropological

These are my perspectives. I don't intent to make statements. This is a blog, and there is nothing official here. Don't get provoked is all I ask. Nothing more than that. For every man is entitled to opinions, even if he is wrong. 

When it comes for Hydro Power Plants in Bhutan, it is not only conceived as a revenue generating cow but also as a cow that gives cow dung. But most often, our people don't know how to handle the cow dung so they haven't conceived these upcoming projects with positive attitude.

Today, let's converse over why Hydro Power Projects have been seen as a means not to earn but to put a nation in Debt? You see, if you really stick to the plan to generate 10,000 MW by 2020, I think by 2030 we could clear off all the debts for those particular 10,000 MW. I did few of the calculations and if I am not wrong, then once when we hit 10,000 MW, every year we could clear off debts for 1000 MW. Calculations as well be shown in next post ( let's presume that I am right :p ). 

But today, let's not go there. I shall discuss about the economical & technical impacts in my later posts, today, however, let's discuss over anthropological points.

When there’s too much of money involved, everybody will have something to say about.

The initial cost of Hydro Power Projects is too much to bear comparing to other plants, but ecologically it is the least hazardous, that was what I learnt in college and I am not sure how far truth remains in pages of those bulky test books, because the impacts of reservoirs on Eco-systems of those massive gigantic dams are little bit understood today, a half century after those dams were constructed. Anyhow, here we are today, kicking off mega projects in Bhutan.

Every Engineer is corrupt and every female working in projects is warming someone’s bed, was a notion while I was working in Thimphu. Come on, it sounds rude? I had to hear it. 

But it has often been everybody’s and anybody’s business to comment over the negative side of project and project workers.

Whenever Hydro Power Projects are constructed the greatest challenge is not overcoming the loose rock which might kill the project workers, they will have to deal it themselves, for they chose to work on or in or under it. Rehabilitation is the utmost problem for not many would like to resettle or moved from their residing premises, the emotions and sentiments attached with the place whereby they have born and lived their lives. Project does pay them though, compensate over their land and negotiate over it.

Other thing is, since people at projects are ‘earning a lot’ mindset has consumed our own local people, every entrepreneurs in that locality want to target these project workers. Some have made fortune out of it and some have failed miserably. And let’s now talk about house rents. Hydro Power Projects themselves kick off at very remote areas and infrastructures have been always a challenge. Some have even fixed a percentage of budgets to be spent over it; some say 10% of the project fund should be kept for infrastructural works. And it might be true as well, for those kms of roads and houses needed to be built near those project sites don’t come cheap.

We always see in news that house owners’ sad stories regarding how much they have to pay to clear off their debts, but let’s not ignore the fact that how much of debt pits they are engineering for us. We signed the contract for house rents and that contract should be valid for two years, but every seven to seventeen months the house rents are revised. And there is not much in our tenant act, as far as I think (I might be wrong) if you have dispute with your house owner, and even if you win, you would be paid only one month’s house rent. But you have already paid them security deposit and that will be deducted as your house rent for the end of the month you stay at their flat, and yes, you will be kicked out eventually. Just a month’s notification is required to bring you on streets. The house owners should be smart to clear off their own debts and bring in new ideas to generate revenues. Rather than repetitions of same very old ideas of grocery stores, bars, clothes, etc.  

You see, at times it amuses me. Our people. The first thing that they comment over us is: Oh engineer. Must be a millionaire. Wrong. Secondly, when these mega projects are running, instead of making businesses out of it, they don't see beyond stealing barrels, scrap metals, oil or tyres. Weird.  

And regarding engineers being corrupt? One should never forget that patriotism to nation, dedication to job and a man's honesty to his own principles are not sell-able. Those money we save over the claims of contractors (even our own contractors) aren't broadcast-ed live and cheered up like NFL players scoring. However the amount saved will always be benefited to the nation. Regarding the girls warming beds, oh please do inform me on that, my bed life hasn't been warmer ever since I came here, for the deadlines we have met and sacrifices we have made doesn't need accolades but warm beds could do. And those who will practice infidelity will do, irrespective of working for the project or not.

Yes, we too have choices over whether to work or not to work, withdraw our salaries after sitting behind the desks with arms crossed thinking over where to built the toilets of our houses, and there are few in our regime as well. I don't deny to that. But most of us are hard working here, for we all have the very same passion, passion that binds us together: the passion to learn engineering. Everything that is related to engineering in Bhutan is extreme engineering, be it drains that you built on terrains, the curves that you built on roads with gradients changing, building buildings on seismic zone V, designing buildings with complex architectural aesthetics, building water supply schemes to flood routing to even building retaining walls. Everything is hard and everything doesn’t have thumb rule for everything that is done here is new, we don’t even have good set of codes that we have to depend upon other nations’ codes to actually get things done.

Someone once told me this, he happens to be a high rank official, and I have always found truth in his lines: Nobody will appreciate what we are doing here; they will however expect appraisals when the projects will kick off putting us into inflation again.

Hydro Power Projects are however like we waiting for food to get ready. While it isn't cooked we complain with our plates and spoons ready, banging them and making noises, while it is completed we try to fill up our bellies and while we do so, we complain more over the delicacy of food.

To all those people who work for projects tediously, being nocturnal and diurnal, sacrificing festivals and moments with their families, to all those who have increased their probability of deaths over travelling to roads lengthy and falling rocks, to all those workers who are technically sound to work for the job for you all deserve my respect, my brothers and sisters who envisage the vision of better tomorrow of nation. To all the engineers/supervisors who are always accused to be corrupt by those who will never understand the bits and bytes you have sacrificed to give your projects progresses, be it government, private, corporate or project engineers/supervisors who have always minimal supports from their supporting staffs.

Ps: I have figured one thing out. When you are true to yourself and when you work hard, no matter whether you are rich or poor, people seriously will take you and your words seriously. They can't simply taint your image and rip you off. And please wait till the hydro power plants are completed, you shall see the economy that you haven't even stipulated. 

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