Introduction of sand dredging facility

The NRDCL took over the nationwide extraction and marketing of sand from December 2007 based on Executive Order number PM/01/07/571 dated 7th November 2007. Owing to this, NRDCL has a huge mandate to make sand available, affordable and accessible to all the builders in the country.

The table below shows the extraction and disposal target for each of the Regions as per the compact for 2014. (Measurement inm3 for 2014 (8 m3 = 1 truckload)

    Regions/

Extraction

Sha

P/ling

S/Jongkhar

Rinpung

Jakar

Zhemgang

Zhonggar

Total

Production

320,000 

46,000 

15,400

560 

875

66,000

19,040

467,875

Percentage

68%

10%

3%

0.5%

0.5%

14%

4%

100%

 

The demand for sand in the western parts of the country is quite high and it is likely to increase with the increasing level of infrastructural development activities like construction of hydro power projects, Dzongs, Lhakhangs, road networks, housing projects and other individual constructions.  More than 65% of sand requirement in the country comes from Punatshangchu River basin and it caters to requirement particularly in the western parts of the country mainly Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Chhukha dzongkhags. Sand from Sha Region goes to about eleven dzongkhags in varying quantities.

In view of the need to meet the huge demand for sand especially in the western region, the management had taken some additional measures to improve the extraction and distribution as below;

Sand is extracted and supplied directly from the river side quarries as soon as the river volume subsides with the help of departmental machineries like excavator, pay loaders etc. It is also simultaneously collected from the river side sand quarries during the lean monsoon season and transported to the sand stocking depot with the help of contractors for supply when the water level rises.

As the above methods of collection are limited only during the winter season when the water level is low, NRDCL came up with a sand dredging machine from the beginning of 2014 and started its operation from Rinchengang near the main bridge at Wangduephodrang.

 

               sand image                                                           sand image w

              Sand Dredging Machine in Rinchengang                                                      Dredged sand getting loaded from Rinchengang

The machine mounted on a boat is connected with an extraction pipe which collects the sand from the river bed with the help of a suction nozzle and it is pushed to the dredging pump housed inside the boat along with other accessories. From here, an outflow pipe throws the filtered sand to the collection sites. The dredged sand is fine, free from mud and other debris with 100% recovery as compared to sand collected through other means.

Besides making sand available even during the peak monsoon season, dredging has some benefits for the environment as a whole as below;

With the introduction of sand dredging facility, customers have secondary preference over the other type of sand and NRDCL is forced to place an additional machine with double the capacity of the earlier machine from the beginning of July 2014. With the introduction of the dredging machine in Wangduephodrang, NRDCL has supplied a total of about 9282 m3 of sand until 17th July 2014.

Sand being a state property, NRDCL handles this scarce resource with due consideration on the welfare of users and the price at source is highly regulated which is quite reasonable. The prices are approved by Natural Resources Pricing Committee (NRPC) of the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) and the cost at source is highly reasonable. The existing rates for sand are as below;

  1. Sand from quarry is Nu.100.63/m3 (Nu.805 per truck load for 8m3 volume).
  2. Sand supplied from various stocks is Nu.192.75/m3 (Nu.1542 per truck load for 8m3 volume) owing to expenses incurred in collection, loading/unloading and transportation from the quarry to the depot.
  3. Dredged sand from Rinchengang is Nu.242.36/m3 (Nu.1938.88 per truck load for 8m3 volume).

The normal production which is supposed to be around 8-9 truckloads per hour from both the machines combined is affected during the peak rainy months. The sudden removal of dredging facilities from the river following every flood warning and occasional adverse weather conditions has drastically affected sand extraction leading to intermittent disruption in supply for which we have no control. NRDCL is committed and geared to improve the existing facilities so that this important resource is distributed to all users.