HETAUDA, DEC 28 –
The Kulekhani III Hydropower Project has been racing towards completion with 75 percent of the work done as of Friday. The 14 MW project, located in Makwanpur district to the south of Kathmandu, said that the rest of the work would be finished within the next nine months.
“Provided the project faces no obstructions in the days to come, it will be completed within September 2014,” said Madhusudan Pratap Malla, chief of the project. “We must be in a position to continue work at the same pace as last year.”
Work on the inclined penstock of the civil engineering part has reached the final stage while work on the siphon has also begun. The digging of a 4-km-long main tunnel has been almost completed. Audit tunnels have also been completed. “A pond for sedimentation of sand and collecting water is also being dug,” said Malla.
Kulekhani III started on April 27, 2008 with the objective of completing construction in 2012. However, the project was delayed as the contractor failed to complete the assigned work on time. Indecision on the part of the Nepal Electricity Authority along with obstruction by the local people further slowed down the project. The contract to build the project was awarded to Chinese company Sino Hydro.
The construction of a power house at Sanutar, Bhainse has also been speeded up. According to the project, 37 percent of the work on the power house has been completed. Rush crews have been working on the power house round the clock. More than 100 workers have been working day and night to complete it. Meanwhile, delays have led to cost overruns of 87 percent. The total project cost was estimated at Rs 2.43 billion five years ago, and the revised estimate has reached Rs 4.46 billion. Kulekhani III has the capacity of producing 40.65 GW of electricity annually on average.
A 129-m bridge across the Rapti River was constructed two years ago. The bridge is considered to be the main infrastructure of the project. A total sum of Rs 2.75 billion has been invested in the project. The project will produce power by taking the water from Kulekhani II and water from local streams to the powerhouse through a tunnel.
According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, the developer of the project, the electricity produced by the project can be fed into the national grid after erecting a transmission line half a kilometre long from the power house.
Although work on the project has been progressing smoothly presently, it faced a series of problems in the last five years which delayed its completion.
In January 2012, the contractor pulled out and returned to work a month later only after the NEA agreed to provide compensation of Rs 140 million and extend the deadline by 30 months.
Obstructions by the project staff against the firing of workers by the contractor also delayed the project. In January 2011, the construction of a tunnel was delayed as the government did not allow trees to be cut down in the surrounding areas of Audit No 2 in Bhainse VDC.
Source : The Kathmandu Post