Tarai banda, blockade hit hydel projects

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    Nov 4, 2015- The construction works of various hydropower projects in the western region have come to a halt due to lack of raw materials and equipment as the country has been facing supply disruption in the wake of India’s undeclared embargo on Nepal.

    Having already incurred millions of rupees in losses, hydropower companies fear construction costs would shoot up as the projects are running behind scheduled deadlines. The prolonged blockade has left most of the projects are in dilemma.

    The 25MW Upper Madi Hydro Project in Kaski district, scheduled to be completed in April 2016, has been halted for the past month. Eighty-two percent of the works has been completed.

    Raj Kumar Baral, assistant project coordinator, said that the construction works had been halted due to shortage of petroleum products, cement and steel. The company has told its 600 labourers to stay on leave and some Chinese staff have returned home.

    The project needs 5,000 litres of fuel daily, said Baral adding that it is losing Rs500 million each day because of the blockade. “Equipment that were brought on lease have been sitting ideal. The project is facing landslide risks due to accumulation of water in the tunnel,” he said. “Workers are unable to cook their meal due to shortage of gas.”

    Project Director Bijay Babu Malla said that 4,200-metre tunnel had been constructed but they were not able to continue the concrete lining process. While 90 percent of works on intake has been completed, turbine fitting work has been stalled. The company has completed the construction of a switchyard and 31 transmission towers.

    “We had estimated that the project would be completed at the cost of Rs6.6 billion, but the overall cost would be increased,” said Malla. China International Water and Electric Corporation has 80 percent stake in the project, while Nepali investors hold the remaining stake.

    Similarly, the blockade has also affected construction works at 20 MW Middle Modi and 15.1 MW Lower Modi hydropower projects in Parbat district. The Mid-Modi project is scheduled to be completed by next year, while Lower Modi is slated for completion by 2017. Labourers returned home before Dashain after the project works came to a halt. “The blockade has caught all of us by surprise. We had never expected of such a problem,” said Pawan Kumar Yadav, head of the project. According to him, the project incurred a huge loss as 60 percent of the 4,200-metre tunnel construction had been halted. The project needs 1,000 litres of diesel a day. It has also been hit by the lack of construction materials due to the onging unrest in the Tarai.

    Meanwhile, the maintenance work of United Modi has been stalled due to fuel shortage. “We need to use heavy equipment but we are unable to do so due to lack of fuel,” said project CEO Upendra Gautam. In Lamjung, works at five under construciton hydel projects–50MW Upper Marsyangdi A, 27MW Dordikhola, 25MW Upper Dordi A, 2MW Chhayngdi and 3MW Superdordi ‘kha’–came to a halt due to lack of fuel. Similarly, the construction works at Myagdi-based 4MW Ghalemdi Hydro Project have been stalled for over a month. “Due to lack of fuel, we are not been able to operate generator and equipment,” said Bimal Rijal, company secretary of the project.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post