KATHMANDU, Aug 3:
The recent decision to redesign the main tunnel of Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project has not only resulted in the delay of the much-awaited project by seven months but has also increased its cost by a whopping Rs 1.5 billion.
As the alignment of the tunnel had to be changed to avoid the hydraulic fracturing as a result of high pressure, additional 650-meter steel penstock pipe has to be fitted at the end of the 8-km long headrace tunnel.
According to the project´s revised schedule, the first unit will start commercial operation by December 2015 – around seven months behind the schedule, and the remaining five units will also be delayed by two months. The first unit of the 456 MW was expected to come into commercial operation by May 2015 according to the initial target.
According to sources, Norconsult, the project consultation, recently wrote to Nepal Electricity Authority stating that tunnel must be realigned in order to prevent hydraulic fracturing and uncontrollable loss of water. Preliminary estimates show that additional penstock pipes will cost it costs about Rs 1 billion and rerouting of the tunnel will cost Rs 500 million more, Bimal Gurung, Assistant Manager of the Project, told Republica.
“Had Nepal Electricity Authority reviewed the project design and layout from the third party before the tender process, the problem might have been averted,” added Gurung.
Acting Project Chief Bigyan Shreshtha, however, said, “Technical problems are common in a mega project like this. Moreover, we have already rectified the problem.”
But NEA staffs said that they smell fish in the modification of the project on which general public have invested.
Many projects undertaken by NEA have incurred additional costs due to modification of the designs -from Kaligandaki A to Upper Trishuli 3A, said Sitaram Thapa, an employee at NEA.
Estimates show that the delay in the project will tantamount to loss of 76.6 million units of energy. The market price of the cost of the lost energy is calculated at about Rs 3.5 billion. However, Gurung argues that the idea of counting the cost of energy is not logical at the stage of the construction.
Meanwhile, the project being further affected by vertical pilot drilling as the drilling has not been accurate.
Civil works contractor Sino Hydro has sought time extension for the work. However project official said that time extension for the drilling won´t affect the revised work schedule of the project.
Meanwhile, the government is preparing to form a technical committee to assess the Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project.
Privy sources at NEA said that committee of the independent members are to look into the problems dogging the project. The study will also will address the concerns and grievances of the locals regarding the project, the sources said.
Earlier, discrepancies were reported on the quality testing provision of construction materials, and misuse of the fund allotted for the socio-economic benefits of the people affected by the project.
Source : Republica