Protest halts Kulekhani III hydel project works, again

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    HETAUDA, JUL 22 –

    Kulekhani III HEP Adit TunnelProtesting the firing of 14 labourers by contractor Sino Hydro, workers have been obstructing regular work on the 14-MW Kulekhani III Hydropower Project for the last four days.

    The protest has particularly hit the tunnel digging work and project officials fear that the agitation would delay the completion of the tunnel.

    The workers have sought additional benefits for those who have been sacked. “We had to launch the protest as the contractor failed to offer the committed facilities,” said Pema Lama, one of the project workers. “The contractor must fulfil its obligation as per the contract agreement with the workers.”

    As per the agreement, retiring workers have to be provided with additional facilities, according to the agitating workers.

    The tussle between the contractor and the workers has erupted at a time when the tunnel has entered its final stage of construction. Project chief Madhusudan Pratap Malla said only a 48-m section is left for construction and it could be completed with a week if the work continued.

    Of the 4,294-m tunnel, construction of 4,246 m has been completed. “Almost 95 percent of the tunnel work has been completed,” said Malla.

    The project is targeted to be completed by September 2014. Around 66 percent of the overall project work has been completed. The project construction started in April 2008.

    Sino Hydro has assigned around 140 Chinese and more than 300 Nepali employees in the project. “We are looking forward to meet the extended deadline of the project completion,” said Malla, adding around Rs 2 billion has already been invested in the project whose estimated cost is Rs 2.43 billion.

    The project should have completed by November 2011, but only 40 percent of the construction work was completed by then.

    The Chinese contractor had warned of pulling out from the project demanding compensation and additional time to complete the project. And, the government had increased the completion deadline by 30 months on April 2012.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post