Kulekhani-3 project fails to pay workers; construction halted

Mar 17, 2019

Workers deployed at the construction site of the Kulekhani-3 Hydropower Project have halted construction work of the project which recently entered the testing phase. The labourers halted their work at the project site after the local contractor working for Jheijian Jialian, the Chinese contractor executing the hydro- and electro-mechanical works of the power plant failed to pay their wages for three months.

According to a project official, around 60 workers deployed by Hulas Company, the local contractor, have not received their pay cheques for three months. Such an irresponsible behaviour of the contractor during the testing phase is likely to push back the construction date of the project which has been already been hit hard by the lackadaisical attitude of the contractor, according to the official.

“We were aiming to produce electricity by mid-July. But, if the halt continues, it will be difficult to produce electricity by the targeted date,” the official said.

Sharad Golchha, the manager of Hulas, however, said that they were unable to make payment to the workers as the Chinese contractor has not doled out the funds to them.

Meanwhile, the workers said that they will not be working unless their wages are paid. The workers have not been working for the past six days. The adjustment work of six gates and finishing works of the office and power house have stalled, said an official.

It has been a decade since the 14MW project began construction. The construction of the project began in April 2008 with the aim of completing it by 2012. The project encountered cost overruns due to delays, and the developer has spent double the amount of money originally estimated. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs2.43 billion. It has now ballooned to Rs5 billion.

In May 2014, the National Planning Commission declared Kulekhani-3 a troubled project. Initially, the project had estimated that the construction cost per megawatt of power would reach Rs173.6 million. As per the revised estimate, it is expected to reach Rs 310 million per megawatt.

The project will produce electricity by utilising the tailrace water from the Kulekhani-2 Hydropower Project and water from local rivers. The water will be channelled through a 4-km tunnel to the powerhouse to turn the turbines. According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, the electricity generated by the project will be fed into the national grid by extending a half-kilometre-long transmission line from the powerhouse.

 

Source: The Kathmandu Post