All eyes are on Upper Tamakoshi


    Kamal_Raj_DhungelUpper Tamakoshi hydropower project, located at north-east of Charikot, headquarters of Dolakha district, is the biggest hydropower project in Nepal of its kind. It is a run-of-river project with 820m gross head, design discharge of 66m3/second with installed capacity of 456 MW. The hydropower generating capacity of this project was estimated differently by different studies. JICA in 1985, Dr. Christian Uhlier in 1999 and NEA in 2001 estimated its installed capacity at 113 MW, 120 MW and 250 MW respectively. Dr. Cristian Uhlier estimated the cost of producing a kilowatt of power at US$ 1100. It indicates that electricity generated from this project will be three times cheaper than Kali Gandaki A, Middle Marshyangdi, Bhotekoshi and Khimti. The project is most desirable because of the low cost with favorable social and environmental impact.

    Hydropower project of this size has never been constructed by mobilizing own resources. Employee’s Provident Fund, National Insurance Company, Nepal Telecom and Citizen Investment Trust are providing loan for the project. The total cost is estimated at US$ 441 million. Of this, 70% will be met by loans from the above mentioned institutions. The remaining 30% of the cost is proposed to mobilize from equity. The result of the economic and financial analysis shows that the Benefit Cost Ratio (B/C ratio) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR) are 2.94 and 24.41 percent respectively. This proves that the project is more desirable in terms of cost benefit perspective.  This, in fact, provides an opportunity to divert our idle resources from the real estate sector to a more productive sector.

    Upper Tamakoshi hydroelectric project started in 2010 and is expected to complete in 2015. Four international contractors with different job assignment are jointly working in the project. Chinese contractor, Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd has the responsibility of all type of civil works including the construction of access road. Now this company has completed the construction of access road along with the10.6 KM tunnel out of 16 Km, 40 percent of dam construction and half finished underground power house.  Prevalent of cracks in different places of under construction power house are rampant. It is learnt that the power house developed cracks after the tunnel was dug up to 28 metres. Though the exact reason for the cracks is yet to be known, but three reasons could be guessed for its happening-technological flaw, rough geological survey or test and temperature change. First two reasons if proven will be the result of unaccountability, irresponsible and lack of transparency. Whatever the reason that could be it is a serious matter. It implies that power house needs some additional work to complete which obviously can extend the time by four to six months that needs extra investment. Professionals are needed to investigate. Similarly, according to the concerned person some modifications on the predesigned route of the tunnel are being proposed. The reason attributed to this end is the unsuitable geological structure. Verification is needed for the given reason.

    On the road to Gogar, located at the bottom of Khare VDC, a small track from where 20-25 school children walk twice a day to go to their school and home. Access road construction dislocated it   which makes difficult to move children up and down. Consumers committee of Khare VDC has already taken a sum of Rs. 2403249 to operate and improve 13 different programs from the project. Neither project itself nor consumers committee seem responsible for the improvement of this track from which the users particularly school children become sufferer. In between Gogar and Lamabagar, landslides have put nine houses in danger. Access road construction causes it to happen.  Immediate action is needed to rehabilitate affected families.

    The locals of Dolakha are entitled to get 10% share of the project. Inhabitants of Dolakha district will be illegible for claiming shares of any bulk. This implies that all are getting equal rights.   Will this allotment be fair and justice? As the project wholly located in Lamabagar VDC, inhabitants of this VDC are suffering from social, economic and environmental pollution in the short run. In the long run they will have larger benefit.  They lost their land and other surrounding at which their daily requirement is being met. Obviously, special offer is needed to those who are suffering from the construction pollution. . In this context a local demands to allot 1-3 percent more share to those who are suffering directly from the project. For this to happen, special provision needs to be mentioned to facilitate them. A local has expressed his dissatisfaction about the royalty generated from the use of sand and concrete. District development committee is the sole owner of the amount of royalty generated from the use of the resource of Lamabagar VDC.  A provision needs to develop about the right to keep   a portion of royalty for the development of Lamabagar VDC.

    (Dhungel is a Professor at Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University.

    Source :