Gandak Hydro out of operation since April



    gandak hydroThe powerhouse of the Gandak Hydro electricity Project has remained inoperational for the last three months resulting in daily losses of Rs 3 million in revenues to the government.

    The 15 MW power plant is equipped with three turbines with a capacity of 5 MW each. The first and third turbines have been dead for seven years while the second turbine conked out three months ago.

    Shyam Kumar Sharma, supervisor of the project, said that the second turbine stopped working in April. “With the two turbines shut down, the state has lost a total of Rs 66 billion in taxes in the past seven years,” he added.

    Each turbine at the Gandak Hydro can produce 120,000 units of electricity daily. The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) can earn Rs 840,000 per day by selling this energy.

    Gandak Hydro , which was constructed three decades ago with Indian assistance, was originally equipped with Japanese machines. The NEA has been criticized for replacing them with Chinese machines in a bid to cut costs.

    Maintenance of the powerhouse has never been a priority for the NEA or the government. Although the project can instantly resume operations and begin producing electricity with a small investment, the Energy Ministry has shown no interest in doing so. Last month, Energy Minister Radha Gyawali had made a site visit and pledged to provide the necessary resources immediately to get the powerhouse up and running. However, there has been no progress since then.

    According to Sharma, about Rs 1 billion is needed to get all the three turbines back in shape. He blamed the NEA for not paying attention even after repeated requests.

    The Gandak Hydro electricity Project is spread over 32 bighas. The powerhouse, which is equipped with modern and sophisticated physical infrastructure, employs four dozen staff. Narayan Jaisi Tiwari, chief engineer of the project, said that Rs 400 million would be required to repair each turbine.

    A turbine produces electricity worth Rs 840,000 daily. “If a turbine is repaired, the income would enable the project to purchase another turbine in the next three years,” said Tiwari, adding that he had sent a proposal to the NEA to conduct partial maintenance.

    The Indian government built the hydro project after constructing a dam across the Triveni River in Nawalparasi district.

    India has been using 16,000 cusecs of the water collected in the reservoir, which is located 19 km from the Indian border, for irrigation on its territory. The staff at the powerhouse receive 132 kV of electricity from India in return.

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