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Kulekhani 3 hydro project likely to get new deadline

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The project’s completion deadline has been extended four times since construction began in April 2008

Sep 17, 2017-Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility, is mulling a six-month deadline extension to one of the contractors of the Kulekhani 3 Hydropower Project to complete all the construction works.

Sino Hydro, the civil contractor of the project, was earlier given a fourth deadline of July to complete all the work. NEA, the owner of the project, is now planning to extend the deadline till December, as the contractor could not complete its work within that period.

Subash Mishra, the project chief, has already forwarded the proposal on deadline extension to NEA’s head office.

“NEA’s board meeting will now take a decision on the matter,” said Mishra. “However, the hydropower project might not be ready to generate electricity even within the newly proposed deadline, as Jheijian Jialin Company, the hydro and electro mechanical contractor, is carrying out work at snail’s pace.”

The project’s civil contractor has completed around 99 percent of its work, but Jheijian Jialin has only completed 75 percent of its job. As a result, there has been little progress in installation of turbine, water gate and transmission lines to evacuate the 

electricity generated by the plant. “We did everything we could to raise the work speed of the hydro and electro mechanical contractor, but our efforts have gone in vain,” said Mishra. 

NEA has already fined Jheijian Jialin Rs80 million for delaying construction. NEA, therefore, cannot extend the deadline nor terminate contract, as it will be difficult to find another contractor during this phase of construction. Also, the Chinese company has already imported more than 80 percent of the equipment required for the project. If a new contractor is hired, it may not take responsibility for the quality of the equipment imported by another contractor.

Recently, Energy Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi visited the project site and directed the contractor to speed up the construction work. Likewise, officials of NEA and Energy Ministry have repeatedly taken up the issue with the Chinese ambassador.

The project’s completion deadline has been extended four times since construction began in April 2008. It was originally scheduled to be completed by 2012. When the project first missed the deadline, it was extended by 30 months. When that deadline passed, the target was pushed back till the end of the fiscal year 2015-16.

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

But there has been no change. The project has witnessed cost overruns due to delays, and the developer has spent double the amount of money than originally 

estimated. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs2.43 billion, which has now ballooned to Rs4.22 billion. In May 2014, the National Planning Commission declared Kulekhani 3 a troubled project.

Published: 17-09-2017 08:12

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