Construction of several hydro projects stalled


After the government imposed the nationwide lockdown to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus, construction of different hydropower projects with total installed capacity of 2,500 megawatts has been stalled.

Kumar Pandey, vice-president of the Independent Power Producers’ Association, Nepal (IPPAN), said that construction works of all the projects were stopped since the day the lockdown notice was issued by the government. According to him, workers involved in the construction of those hydropower projects are sitting idle at the moment.

“This is actually the best time of the year to execute construction works of hydropower projects,” he said. “However, we have been compelled to halt all the works due to the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown.”

“We’d planned to conduct works without allowing contact between locals and workers from outside local areas but after pressure from local authorities and different stakeholders we halted construction works,” Pandey added.

He informed that they will soon write to the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation to make necessary arrangements for the smooth construction of the projects as the production schedule will be affected due to the delay.

“If the lockdown stays in place for at least two months then the government will have to address our concerns related to the next project completion and commencing date,” said Pandey. “ We have asked the government to provide some relief packages for those independent power producers who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.”

He also said that construction works of other projects should also be allowed to continue like with the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project by not allowing outsiders at the project site.

Currently, there are projects with 1,500 MW capacity being built by the independent power producers and projects with 1,000 MW capacity by subsidiary companies of Nepal Electricity Authority.

Prabal Adhikari, spokesperson for NEA, said that besides the Upper Tamakoshi project, they have implemented the force majeure on all projects that are under construction and they will remain shut till the lockdown is over.

Source:  The Himalayan Times.