KATHMANDU, FEB 21 –
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has started probe into quality of construction materials used in the 456-MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project.
The CIAA’s probe into the Upper Tamakoshi, one of national pride projects, follows the complaints that the sub-standard materials had been used in its construction. The irregularities became apparent after 80 metres of tunnel’s ceiling started developing cracks. Once completed, the project will have a 1,100-metre long tunnel system .
As part of its probe, the anti-graft body had sent samples of construction materials mainly steel rod and cement used in the project to a laboratory in India. Though investigation officers involved in the case declined to comment on the status of lab reports, sources within the CIAA said the materials used in the project were found to be sub-standard.
According to the source, investigation officers are currently consulting with the independent experts before taking a decision on whether to press charges against producers and suppliers of the construction materials in the project. “Since this is a national priority project, we are taking this matter very seriously. We will come up with a concrete decision soon,” said CIAA spokesperson Shreedhar Sapkota. He added complaints had been filed with the CIAA against a few cement and iron industries and suppliers, without naming the brands.
The CIAA plans to interrogate senior staff of principal contractor Sino Hydro, suppliers of construction materials and officials from the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
The CIAA sources said their investigation is primarily focused on construction companies involved in the project’s tunnel and dam construction. China’s Sino Hydro Company is building both the tunnel and dam of the project, while German-based Lamier International is the project’s consultant.
Upper Tamakoshi is the country’s first large-scale hydel project being constructed with domestic resources. Employees Provident Fund (Rs 10 billion), Citizen Investment Trust (Rs 2 billion) and Rastriya Beema Sansthan (Rs 2 billion) are the lenders, while Nepal Telecom has invested Rs 6 billion in the project.
Source : The Kathmandu Post