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Industries lock horns over infrastructure damage

Trouble is boiling in Pasakha Industrial Estate with companies locking horns

In Pasakha, Bhutan Bitumen Industries Private Limited (BBIPL) has filed a case against Saint Gobain Ceramic Materials Bhutan Private Limited accusing the latter of emitting noxious fumes, which has corroded BBIPL plant’s roofing sheets.

Bhutan Bitumen is seeking compensation for the damage caused by the smoke. The roofing sheets of the company’s plant have supposedly corroded due to fumes from Saint Gobain.

Meanwhile, Kenpa Private Limited, another company in Pasakha along with Bhutan Bitumen has filed a complaint against Saint Gobain to the Association of Bhutanese Industries (ABI).

“We know that the corrosion is due to smoke from their plant,” said BBIPL’s Managing Director, Tshering Dorji.

A Bhutan Bitumen official said that black fumes from Saint Gobain settle in the company premises causing health concerns and pungent smell at night. He also accused Saint Gobain of emitting dust, which has corrosive effect on their plant’s Conglomerated Galvanized Iron (CGI) sheets and drums.

The offficial said that the corrosive dust emitted from Saint Gobain has led them to change their plant’s CGI sheets, roofing truss, electrical wirings and water tanks at a cost of almost Nu 900,000.

Bhutan Bitumen claims to have changed CGI sheets thrice so far since its establishment.

The official also said that the defendant’s excuse that their plant was set up following government request is a lie.

Since the two industries’ plants are in close proximity, Bhutan Bitumen officials added that the pollutant fumes emitted by Saint Gobain especially in the evening makes it difficult for the former’s employees to breathe and carry out daily chores.

Though there are other industries emitting similar dusts, the two irked companies are sure that Saint Gobain is the culprit emitting the corrosive dust.

Bhutan Bitumen officials are of the view that pollution control mechanisms are not installed at the plant as the National Environment Commission mandates.

However, the court cannot pass a verdict until the plaintiff produces evidence, which Bhutan Bitumen is yet to do.  A sample has been collected from the Saint Gobain plant and will be sent for lab test.

“There is sulphur content in the dust which is corrosive,” the BBIPL proprietor said.

However, sources told Business Bhutan that Saint Gobain has already provided a sample test report and sulphur content was not detected.

Four hearings have already been completed on the case but the Phuentsholing Drungkhag Court is yet to deliver the verdict. The next hearing will be held in mid-October. “We are not saying that the plant should not be established. But there should be proper pollution control mechanisms in place,” said the Bhutan Bitumen official. The issue was discussed in February 2010 with the ABI. ABI has promised to make earnest efforts to resolve the issue amicably, safeguarding the interests of all concerned.

Meanwhile, officials from Saint Gobain refused to comment on the issue.

Saint Gobain is a Foreign Direct Investment project of Saint Gobain Ceramic Materials, a French company.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing