Upper Tamakoshi likely to miss completion deadline

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    The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project being constructed in eastern Nepal is likely to miss its completion deadline as the Indian contractor assigned to execute the hydro-mechanical works has been going very slow.

    At least one of the six turbines of the 456 MW plant should be churning out power by December 2018 as per the deadline set by the government. The entire project should come online by April 2019. But that does not look like happening.

    Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Company, a subsidiary of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) which is developing the peaking run-of-the-river project, said there was only a slim chance of the project being ready by the government deadline.

    It will be difficult to complete the project within the deadline due to dillydallying by the Indian contractor Texmaco Limited, said Ganesh Raj Neupane, spokesperson for the project.

    “As part of the hydro-mechanical works, the Indian company needs to build gates at the intake of the dam and fit the penstock pipe in the tunnel,” said Neupane. “Although the contractor is constructing the gates at the intake, it is yet to start installing the penstock pipes.”

    The penstock pipes deliver water from the dam into the turbines in the powerhouse to generate electricity. Although Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Company has been putting pressure on the Indian contractor to speed up construction, its performance has not improved.

    Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had directed project officials to meet the completion deadline of the hydropower plant during his visit to the site in Dolakha district in April. Stating that his administration had adopted a policy to avoid delays, Oli underscored the need to take the project ahead without delaying it for one single day.

    He even warned that immediate action would be taken against those responsible for causing delays in the construction of the project. But that didn’t not bring any change in the pace of work of the the Indian contractor.

    Work began at the 456 MW project in Dolakha before the 2015 earthquakes, and 79 percent of the civil works had been completed before the disaster struck. The quake and subsequent Indian trade blockade held up tunnel construction works.

    The national pride project was originally scheduled to be completed in mid-July 2016, but it was delayed due to various technical and social issues. It faced cost overruns due to the delays. The project has spent Rs37.71 billion and completed 95 percent of the work so far.

    According to NEA sources, the total cost of the project is likely to exceed Rs50 billion, significantly higher than the initial estimate of Rs35.3 billion. Nevertheless, the project is considered to be a role model project which is being developed with domestic resources and a high level of participation by project-affected locals and the general public.

    Source : The Kathmandu post