With numerous development activities happening in the eastern region, the demand for stone and sand has increased over the last five years.
The highest demand is for stone aggregates, according to officials from the regional Natural Resources Development Corporation (NHDC) in Mongar.
The total aggregates sold this year until this month stands at 450,000 cft, which is an increase from 290,000 cft last year. NRDCL officials expect the demand to touch 500,000 cft by the end of this year.
The NRDCL regional manager, Tandin Wangchuck attributes the demand to the increasing developmental activities in the eastern region like widening of road, blacktopping of gewog centre roads, Gyalpozhing town and Bondeyma industrial site development and an Agro-based industry construction at Lingmethang.
Although the demand for sand has not increased, the regional office had supplied about 60,000 m3, which is an increase from 50,000 m3 in 2015. “The demand for aggregates increased because two private stone crushing units at Gyalpoizhing and Mongar closed recently,” said the regional manager.
Officials said the demand for boulders has stagnated with people buying boulder at cheaper rates from the road widening sites.
With the construction of Kholongchhu hydropower project not gathering pace, demand for sand has stagnated. NRDCL officials said the project is expected to lift huge volumes of sand. The local demand is met by a private business that supplies sand in Trashigang.
After a sand depot at Chagzam in Trashigang started, demand for sand from NRDCL decreased. “The depot supplies about 3,000 to 4,000 truckloads of sand in a year and 25 percent of our business is affected,” Tandin Wangchuk said.
The regional manager said the revised forest act 2017 permits individual to use sand only for self-consumption, but the private individual keeps continuing the commercial work.
“I don’t know how the private individual managed to get the clearance. He got it in 2017 and even got it renewed,” he said.
Tandin Wangchuk said NRDCL wrote to department of forest and park services and the dzongkhag forest division. The corporation is yet to receive a reply.
Private individuals supplying sand from Samdrupjongkhar is also affecting NRDCL.
Meanwhile, Tandin Wangchuk said the regional office is well equipped with sand in the 39 sand depots in the six eastern districts. In addition, he said nine more depots were explored to supplement should the demand rise in future.
Tshering Namgyel | Mongar