Kulekhani III likely to miss deadline again

    KATHMANDU, Jan 6: Though more than 95 percent of work of Kulekhani III Hydroelectric Project has already been completed, it seems that the project won’t be completed within the next 10 months as planned if needful intervention is not made in time.

    Works like installations of penstock pipes, control panels, putting cables and other electromechanical works are still remaining. But the Chinese contractor of electromechanical works has gone out of contact for the past few months. And work progress of its unofficial representative, Golchha Organization, is not satisfactory.

    It has already been two months that Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) appointed Subhash K Mishra as the project manager. But Mishra has not met even a single representative of Zhejiang Jinlun Electromechanic Co Ltd – the contractor for electromechanical works – in the project site.

    Staffers of Golchha Organization are at the project site. But their work progress is disappointingly slow.

    Ministry of Energy has unveiled plan to add energy generated by the project by October as part of the Energy Development Work Plan 2015 that it devised to address energy crisis.

    “Though the project is in its last leg, the contractor is making things difficult for us,” Laxman Agrawal, board director of NEA, said.

    The deadline for completion of the project has been repeatedly extended. The next deadline has been set at April. The new deadline for civil and electromechanical works expires in three months. NEA officials say it has to be extended again given the slow work progress.

    Talking to Republica, Sher Singh Bhat, chief of NEA’s Directorate of Generation, said work performance of the contract has never been satisfactory since it began works in 2008. “We have faced a practical difficulty as the contractor has unofficially handed over works to Golchha Organization. But it has not reported us about any sub-contracts,” Bhat said. “The Chinese contractor is responsible for the project. But we are finding it very difficult to handle the project as the main contractor has gone out of contact.”

    Last year, NEA fined contractor 10 percent of the contract amount, or around Rs 80 million, for missing deadline. The project has been deducting the fine amount from its running bill.

    The contractor has so far completed works worth only Rs 300 million out of total Rs 800 million for electro-mechanical works.

    “We need to continue piling pressure on contractor has it has already brought necessary equipment and materials,” added Bhat.

    Talking to Republica, Mishra informed that he has sent emails to the contractor’s project manager five times in the past two months. “The contractor keeps telling me that he will come to Nepal once the blockade is lifted as it will be difficult to supply control panels, relay panels and communication panels, which are ready in China, at present,” added Mishra.

    Knowledgeable sources say lackluster response by the contractor is due to the mandatory provision of selecting low bidders. Once winning the contract,
    such contractors tend to walk away from the project, handing works to local partner.

    Mishra told Republica that a team led by CK Golchha, one of the promoters of Golchha Organization, is fitting penstock pipes at the project site.

    When Republica reached Golchha for comment, he simply said he was too busy to talk.

    According to project officials, cost of the project, which was initially estimated at Rs 2.5 billion, will have to be revised to Rs 4.22 billion because of time overruns and different variation order payments paid to Sino Hydro — the civil contractor for the project.

    Project in a nutshell
    ·    Installed capacity: 14 MW
    ·    Both civil and electromechanical contracts awarded in 2008
    ·    Project initially targeted to be completed by 2012
    ·    Cost overrun by about 68 percent to estimated Rs 4.22 billion
    ·    Work worth Rs 3.65 billion completed so far
    ·    Contracts have been repeatedly renewed

    Source : Republica