Minister Shakti Badadur Basnet Steps Up to Solve Material Shortage at Rahughat Hydropower Project

572

Kathmandu, 10 December 2023. The construction of the 40 MW Rahughat hydropower project under construction in Raghuganga Rural Municipality of Myagdi has been affected due to the inability to excavate stone, gravel and sand. As the approval of the project is not taken from the location mentioned in the preliminary environmental examination (IEE) report, it has been seen that the construction is stopped due to lack of stone, aggregate and sand. The locations were decided through IEE so that the necessary river materials for the construction would be drawn from the Kaligandaki river.
Then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Cholendra Shamsher Rana, on 13 July 2021, considered the Kaligandaki river to be of religious, historical and environmental importance, so until the final decision of the writ, diverting the natural flow of the said river to create a reservoir, polluting, extracting river products, stealing and destroying the natural flow of Shaligram and so on. An interim order was issued to stop doing any activities that would be adverse to the environment.
The team, including Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority Kulman Ghising, Deputy Managing Director Pradeep Kumar Thike arrived at the construction site on Saturday to monitor the project management and contractor companies due to the Supreme Court’s interim order to stop the removal of river materials from the river. informed that it is falling.
Minister Basnet said that the construction progress of the project has been satisfactory in the recent period and that necessary initiatives, coordination, and facilitation will be taken from the top level to solve the problems encountered in the extraction of river materials. Minister Basnet also instructed to complete the construction of the project on time. The contractor companies have promised to complete the construction within the next 15 months if the current shortage of river-based construction materials such as stone, gravel, and sand is removed. The overall physical progress of the project is 65 percent. Dams, main tunnels, powerhouses, and other structures are being constructed. Out of the 6.3 km main tunnel, 5.6 km have been excavated. The tunnel has to be completely lined with concrete. Along with the civil construction work on the power plant, the equipment is also being installed.
About one and a half lakh cubic meters of stone, gravel, and sand are required for the construction of concrete lining and structures in the dam area. However, Ganesh KC, Managing Director of Raghuganga Hydropower Ltd., the promoter company of the project, said that only about 10 cubic meters of space are available. “Beni municipality called for a tender for the excavation of river materials in the Myagdi River; we participated in it and got a place to get 10,000 cubic meters, so it is not enough; due to the lack of river construction materials, the work itself was affected; we had to take the initiative from the top level to solve the problem.”
About a year and a half ago, MPs in the Agriculture, Cooperatives, and Natural Resources Committee of the Federal Parliament conducted a site monitoring visit to the project and concluded that the cost of the project would increase due to the lack of construction materials from the river. The committee recommended that it be appropriate to review the government’s interim order to remove river products without harming the river’s protection.
The project is being constructed through Raghuganga Hydropower Ltd., which is wholly owned by the authority, with the investment of the Government of Nepal, the Nepal Electricity Authority, and a concessional loan from the Export Import (Exim) Bank of India. Exim Bank of India has a concessional loan of USD 67 million for the project, which has an estimated cost of USD 81.9 million.
247.9 million units of electricity will be produced annually from the project, which can peak daily for 6 hours. Civil structure and hydromechanical works are being done by Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) framework Jayaprakash Associates Ltd., India; electromechanical works are being done by Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd. and Construction Supervision Wapcos Ltd., India.