Fate of 4 problem-ridden hydro projects in limboThe fate of four hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 560 MW is in limbo due to fuel shortages, lack of coordination with contractors and indecision among stakeholders.
The fate of four hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 560 MW is in limbo due to fuel shortages, lack of coordination with contractors and indecision among stakeholders.
Among the four projects with an uncertain future are national pride project Upper Tamakoshi Hydrop-ower Project with a capacity of 456 MW. The others are the 60MW Upper Trishuli 3A, 30MW Cham-eliya and 14MW Kulekhani III.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) said they could be completed within two years if things proceed as planned, but now it is not sure as they are bogged down in multiple problems.
“Can you imagine that a national pride project like Upper Tamakoshi has come to a halt due to lack of diesel?” said NEA Managing Director Mukesh Raj Kafle to the parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee (AWRC) on Sunday. “We had managed to resume work six months after the devastation caused by the April 25 earthquake. But the unavailability of fuel has again caused problems.” According to the NEA, the project has received just 6,000 litres of diesel when it requires 12,000 litres weekly.
Likewise, the construction work of the 60 MW Upper Trishuli 3A has been affected because a 5 km stretch of the road connecting the powerhouse and the dam site has been completely destroyed, according to the NEA.
The NEA has accused the government authorities responsible for road construction for turning a deaf ear to their pleas.
Sher Singh Bhat, deputy managing director of the NEA, said that the project was well on track before the earthquake, but havoc set in after the road was destroyed by the tremor. “This project can be completed within two years if the road can be rebuilt,” Bhat said.
The contractor was supposed to improve the road, but its complete destruction by the earthquake and landslides has raised a question whether it is liable for repairs.
The AWRC has taken the problem to be a serious one and directed the government on Sunday to mobilize the Nepal Army and the Department of Roads to construct the damaged road section at the earliest possible.
The government had recently authorized the army and the Roads Department to upgrade the Galchhi-Rasuwagadhi road section leading to the Chinese border. “The 5-km stretch lies close to a road being constructed by the army. Hence, they can expedite the construction work,” Gagan Thapa, chairperson of the AWRC, said.
Meanwhile, the 30 MW Chameliya Hydropower Project has come to a halt after the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) uncovered a Rs550-million embezzlement and directed the NEA to stop all payments to the contractor. Following this decision, the NEA has not made any payments to the contractor of the project based in Darchula which has stopped construction.
“As much as 95 percent of the construction of the project has been completed. If things move without any problem, we can evacuate power to the national grid within 12 months,” Bhat said.
The construction of the powerhouse has been completed, and the tunnel can be finished within nine months, according to Bhat.
The AWRC has decided to urge the Speaker of Parliament to arrange a joint meeting with the PAC to discuss the issue. “The AWRC is concerned about the fate of the project. Hence, we need to hold a joint meeting and come up with a conclusion,” Thapa said.
Kafle had urged the AWRC to initiate the process to help resolve the problem so that the project can move ahead soon. “Only the PAC can change its decision. We want the AWRC to play a constructive role,” Kafle said.
Meanwhile, the Kulekhani III project is at a standstill as the contractor does not want to resume work even though 90 percent of the construction has been completed. The contractor of the electro mechanical works Jheijian Jialin has been out of contact of the NEA due to multiple issues.
“If the company proceeds with the work properly, the project can be completed within 10 months,” Bhat said, adding that the civil works of the project had almost been finished. “The Chinese contractor had subcontracted part of the work to the Golchha Organization which seems to be incapable of carrying it out.”
The AWRC has also directed the government to supply fuel to the hydropower projects.