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Upper Tamakoshi project: Completion deadline pushed back again

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Dec 22, 2016- The much-touted Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project is going to miss its construction deadline of July 2018 as its contractors, consultant and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) have agreed to push back the completion date to December 2018. 

The decision to extend the time limit for the 456 MW project located in Dolakha was taken at a joint coordination meeting held on Monday between the key promoter NEA, contractors Sinohydro Corporation and Texamaco Rail and Engineering and the consultant. 

The project has submitted its new schedule to the NEA and the Energy Ministry. According to the new timetable, the project needs to complete the construction of the tunnel and fill it with water by June 2018. 

“Likewise, the project will start generating electricity from the first unit by mid-July 2018 and complete the other five units by mid-December 2018,” said Bigyan Raj Shrestha, chief of the Upper Tamakoshi project.   

The construction of the transmission line and substation, however, will be completed by 2017, according to the NEA. Sinohydro, the civil contractor for the project, has agreed to prepare a detailed work plan by January 2017 as per the revised schedule. In order to enhance coordination, both contractors have agreed to hold daily morning meetings with the consultant. 

Earlier, the NEA had set a July 2018 deadline to complete the project where 83 percent of the construction work has been finished. 

The new schedule was prepared as per Energy Minister Janardan Sharma’s instructions after the promoter, contactor and consultant showed differing project completion dates during his inspection visit to the project site on Saturday. 

During the visit, Shrestha had said that the project was on track to meet the NEA-set deadline while the consultant’s representative had told the minister that it would take three more years. Likewise, the civil contractor had declared March 2019 as the completion date, following which an astounded Minister Sharma told them to get their act together.

The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project reached a milestone a couple of weeks ago with the completion of a 340-metre tunnel road providing access to the main construction site. The tunnel at Kavrebhir was finished after five months of efforts.

Work on the project had been affected after an access road leading to the construction site was destroyed by last year’s earthquakes. The developer had initially tried to reconstruct the road, but later it decided to dig a tunnel instead due to the fragile geology of the area.

The national pride project was originally scheduled to be completed by mid-July 2016, but the earthquakes, India’s trade blockade and various technical and social issues pushed back the completion date. After multiple amendments, the total project cost has now been estimated at Rs35.29 billion. Around Rs30 billion has been spent so far.

However, cost overruns are expected as per the project’s progress report issued in mid-June 2016. The report has cited the earthquakes and blockade for the time and cost overruns. 

According to the NEA, frequent floods during the monsoon also held up work. The project has divided the development works into four categories—civil, hydro mechanical, mechanical electrical, transmission line and supervision.

Published: 22-12-2016 09:00

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