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Kulekhani 3 hydel misses deadline

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu
Project’s completion deadline has been extended 4 times since construction began in ’08

Aug 1, 2017-The Kulekhani 3 Hydropower Project, which has been in construction since 2008, has missed its fourth completion deadline set for July as the Chinese contractor for the hydro and electro mechanical works has been taking its time.

The project’s civil contractor Sino Hydro has completed 98 percent of the construction, but there has been little progress in the installation of the turbine, water gate and transmission lines to evacuate the electricity generated by the plant. 

Jheijian Jialin Company, the contractor hired by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to implement the hydro and electro mechanical works, has so far completed only 50 percent of the task. The NEA is the owner of the 14 MW hydropower project located south of Kathmandu in Bhainse, Makwanpur.

“The contractor is working at a snail’s pace, and the work does not look like being completed any time soon,” said Subash Mishra, the NEA appointed project chief of Kulekhani 3.

Currently, Mishra is in Kathmandu to report the project’s status to the NEA head office and prepare a roadmap to expedite progress. “We are planning to take up the matter with the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu via the Foreign Ministry in order to build pressure on the Chinese contractor to start working seriously,” Mishra said.

The NEA is likely to grant a deadline extension to the civil contractor, but it won’t be able to do so for the hydro and electro mechanical contractor. The NEA has fined Jheijian Jialin Rs80 million for delaying construction work, so there is no way it can extend the deadline.

The state-owned power utility cannot terminate the contract with Jheijian Jialin as it will be difficult to find another hydro and electro mechanical contractor during this late phase of the construction.

“The Chinese company has imported more than 80 percent of the equipment required for the project,” said Mishra. “If we bring another contractor, it will not take responsibility for the quality of the equipment imported by others.”

The civil contractor and the hydro and electro mechanical contractor had agreed to complete the project by July-end during a meeting with the then energy minster Janardan Sharma on December 25.

The project’s completion deadline has been extended four times since construction began in April 2008. It was originally scheduled to be finished by 2012. When the project missed the deadline, it was extended by 30 months. When that deadline too passed without the project nowhere near completion, the target was pushed back once again till the end of the fiscal year 2015-16.

The then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had also directed project officials to expedite the construction and complete it on time during his visit to the project site last December. When NEA officials complained about the Chinese contractor’s apathy, he had said that the government would take up the matter with the Chinese government.

But there was no change. The project has encountered cost overruns due to delays, and the developer has spent double the amount of money originally estimated. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs2.43 billion, but its cost has ballooned to Rs4.22 billion.

In May 2014, the National Planning Commission declared Kulekhani 3 a troubled project.

Published: 01-08-2017 09:44

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