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Govt plan to end power outage hits quake snag

- SANJEEV GIRI, KATHMANDU

May 22, 2015-

The government’s plan to end power shortage within the next three years has faced a setback, with a number of hydropower projects, including operational and under-construction, hit hard by the April 25 Great Earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.

Under the slogan of “Ujyalo Nepal, Sambriddha Nepal”, the budget for this fiscal year had envisaged to end load-shedding within three years.

The government had hoped to generate 560MW electricity in next three years through state-funded projects, and 628MW from 42 projects being developed by independent power producers (IPPs).

However, more than a dozen under-construction projects, mainly in Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Ramechhap, Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot and Rasuwa, have suffered huge losses due to the quake.

According to the Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal (IPPAN), most of the private sector power plants have in the quake-hit districts have been rendered dysfunctional.

Two projects being developed by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)—456MW Upper Tamakoshi and 60MW Trishuli 3A—have been hit hard. The ministry said at both projects, the access roads from the power house to the dam site have been damaged.

In the case of Tamakoshi, 17cm land has subsided at the dam site. At Trishuli, construction equipment have been affected.

NEA Managing Director Mukesh Raj Kafle said apart from Upper Tamakoshi and Trihshuli 3A, four NEA-funded projects—111MW Rasuwagadi, 102MW Madhya Bhotekoshi, 42.5MW Syanjen and 14.8MW Upper Syanejen—have suffered damage.

Kafle said NEA is yet to access the overall impact of the quake on these projects as access roads at most of the projects have been damaged.   

He said unavailability of manpower, raw materials and resources might hit NEA’s plan to bring all these projects on track at the earliest. He said a number of foreign workers have left Nepal for the time being.

The good news, however, is the projects have not faced any severe structural damage. “As per an initial assessment report, there is no big structural damage at hydropower projects being developed by NEA,” said Keshav Dhowj Adhikari, joint secretary at the ministry.

According to NEA, around 103MW electricity being transmitted to the national grid through IPP-developed projects has been halted.

Former IPPAN President Subarna Das Shrestha said operational projects such as Bhotekoshi, Chaku, Mailung Khola, Aankhu Khola and Suiri, among others, have been hit hard.

“With Sindhupalchowk being the worst hit district, a number of project have been shut down there. Around 70MW electricity from Sindhupalchwok alone has been disconnected,” he said. “Private sector has faced a huge loss. While the interruption has already resulted in huge losses, restoration is likely to cost billions.”

The government plans to address load-shedding in the dry season by importing more power from India, besides upgrading transmission lines.

Kafle said the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line will be operational by next year.

Published: 22-05-2015 09:23

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