PHPA to get a new JMD

The Punatsangchu Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA) that looks after the 1,200 MW Punatsangchu I and 1,020 MW Punatsangchu II will get a new Joint Managing Director (JMD).

The term of the current JMD Dasho Phuntsho Norbu came to an end in April 2016 according to the cabinet. The JMD had already got some extensions earlier so another extension was not seen as being feasible.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs came to the cabinet seeking its views on whether to provide another extension which would mean reappointment or alternatively seeking a new person.

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) had sent a recommendation saying that the JMD should be given another extension.

However, the cabinet found that the JMD had been serving on deputation in the PHPA since 2009 and prior to that in the Tala Hydroelectric Project Authority (THPA) since 1997 as JMD. The cabinet also came across RCSC’s own precedent where it had refused to give extension to another senior PHPA official on deputation citing a limited term rule.

The cabinet going by the RCSC’s earlier precedent felt that the JMD had served for enough years and it would not be possible to give another extension on top of an earlier extension already given by the current government.

Dasho Phuntsho Norbu after his long tenure in THPA got a three year term from 1st April 2009 to 1st April 2012 which was then extended by two years to 1st April 2014. In 2014 the current government gave another extension till 1st April 2016. Dasho is still serving as the JMD until the new JMD takes over.

The cabinet at the same time also recognized the service and contribution the JMD had made to Bhutan’s hydropower sector during his time from Tala days.

A senior RCSC official said that in certain national interest projects like hydro projects RCSC’s normal term limits do not apply and it is up to the government of the day to finally decide.

Amid some speculation on the issue, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay cleared the air saying that the issue had nothing to do with performance but to rather give a new person a chance to gain experience.

Lyonchhen said that there was a need to give other people in the hydropower sector experience in the field.

He said that Dasho had been serving for a very long time in the hydropower sector and that experience would not be wasted as the government would use his experience in the same sector.

Dasho Phuntsho Norbu like his many colleagues on deputation had originally joined as a civil servant in the Department of Geology and Mines in 1983 but was sent on deputation as the Joint Managing Director of Tala to help oversee its construction from 1997 onwards until the project got completed.

The JMD started his term in 2009 with PHPA and as of this year he completed a total of eight years.

The JMD’s post is important because it is number two in the PHPA after the MD R.N Khazanchi. Other senior officials like Director Technical and Director Finance are supposed to report to the MD through the JMD. The JMD in short is the Bhutan government’s man, serving not only as the eyes and ears of the government but also providing necessary check and balance when necessary.

The Cabinet has decided that the DGPC’s number two guy or the Director of Projects Dorji Pavo Phuntshok will be the new JMD. Dorji Pavo started his career straightway in the hydropower sector in 1989 as an electrical engineer in Chukha where he served for 15 years rising up the ranks to become Chief Engineer responsible for operation, maintenance and transmission. From 2004 – 2007, he was with the 1,020 MW Tala Hydroelectric Project as Chief Engineer in-charge of electrical works.

He took a hiatus after Tala and took part in the 2008 elections after which he joined the Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) as Director of Projects from 2008 where he is responsible for planning, execution and monitoring of new power plants construction, including renovation and modernization of existing ones.

He took on additional charge as MD of the Dagachu project for 19 months until and also as MD of the Nikachu or Tangsibji project for 11 months. He was involved in negotiating the four Joint Venture projects between Bhutan and India. He was also involved in setting up the Bhutan Hydropower Services Limited center in Gelephu.

The appointment of the effectively number two guy in DGPC in the post is relevant in the sense that the both P I and P II will go under DGPC management once it is completed.

The PHPA MD R.N Khazanchi said that based on the JMD’s performance he had personally recommended an extension and it was supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs as well. “However, the government decision was to give experience to a new person.”

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