Aug 6, 2017-
China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC), the contractor for Upper Trishuli 3A Hydroelectric Project has resumed construction of the project which was halted after the devastating earthquake in April 2015. The Chinese contractor, according to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)—the owner of the project—resumed work two weeks ago and is currently busy digging a tunnel and reconstructing the power house of the 60MW hydropower plant.
Out of the 4.4 km long tunnel required for the development of the hydropower plant, only 151 metres remains to be dug. Before the devasting earthquake struck, the project had only 208 metres of tunnel left to dig.
“After resuming the work, CGGC has completed digging 57 metres,” said Ambikesh Jha, the NEA appointed site in-charge of the project. “If the tunnel digging is carried out at this pace, the tunnel will be completed well before the end of September.” The completion of tunnel digging would be major breakthrough for this project, Jha added.
Likewise, the contractor has cleared the powerhouse inundated with water and debris after the earthquake and resumed its construction. The Chinese contractor will take stock of the dam after the ongoing monsoon. “If the things go well, we might complete the project well before the revised deadline of April 2019,” said Jha.
However, the project construction will go smoothly only if the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China extends the grace period for the repayment of loans it has granted Nepal to construct the project.
Although the top officials of Exim bank visiting Nepal in September 2016 agreed to extend the grace period, no official letter has not arrived yet.
The Chinese bank has extended a concessional loan worth $114.7 million at an annual interest rate of 1.75 percent for 25 years, with a grace period of five years which expired in August 2016. During the grace period, the borrower need not start the loan repayment process.
Currently, technical team of the Nepal Army is carrying out repair work of the landslide affected areas near the dam. The earthquake triggered landslides had affected areas close to the dam, posing a threat to its safety. The army team has almost completed shotcreting the hill that lies on the right-side of the dam. Shotcreting is the process of spraying concrete throughout the surface of the hills to reinforce it against landslides.
In order to prevent landslides from the hill on the left side of the dam, the army is also installing netting and fencing the area with special types of wires. Similarly, the army has also almost repaired various sections of the access road that was damaged by the earthquake.
The technical team of Nepal Army consisting of a few dozen army personnel was assigned to repair the access road and build protection on either side of the plant’s dam after it was damaged by the 2015 earthquake. The contractor for the project had stopped construction work after the crucial access road connecting the headworks and the powerhouse was damaged by the earthquake and asked the NEA to repair the damaged structure before the resumption of the work. Although the project contractor was supposed to build the access road for the project, differences emerged over who should repair it.
The dispute was settled after a consultant for the project and an independent team of experts submitted a report stating that the damaged access road should be rebuilt by the NEA. An NEA board meeting then requested the government to mobilise Nepal Army personnel to repair the road.
Subsequently in the beginning of January, a Cabinet meeting directed the army to repair the road and mitigate landslides. The army team started work in February.
Source: The Kathmandu Post