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NEA warns of fine if power line project delayed

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 21, 2018-

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has warned the contractor for the Solu Corridor transmission line project that it is liable to pay a fine if the power line and substation are not completed within the stipulated time.

The state-owned power utility has contracted Mohan Energy Corporation of New Delhi, India to build the 132 kV transmission line which will feed the electricity generated by six hydropower projects under construction on the Solu River, known as the Super Six, into the national grid.

It appears the contractor will not be able to complete the project within its March 2019 deadline, raising concerns that the electricity generated by the private developers will go to waste when the plants come online. The power line project is being built by the NEA with a $29 million soft loan from India.

NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising said it may fine the contractor to provide compensation to the private hydro investors for losses if the project fails to come into operation by the given deadline. Ghising made the remark while making a field inspection of the project in Solukhumbu on Friday.

The NEA is constructing the 90-km Mirchaiya-Tingla 132 kV double circuit transmission line and substation of a similar capacity at Tingla in Solukhumbu district.

Amid delays in the construction of the transmission line, Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun directed the NEA to resolve the problem as soon as possible as the electricity generated by the private developers could go to waste.

“If the project has been delayed due to issues related to the environment, particularly forests, I will request the concerned ministry,” said Ghising. “We will monitor the project continuously.

And if the project fails to come into operation on time, the contractor should take the responsibility,” he said.  

The NEA has signed power purchase agreements with the so-called Super Six projects which have a combined installed capacity of 217.5 MW. As per the pacts, the NEA has to pay a penalty if it fails to feed the power generated by the 82 MW Lower Solu and 23.5 MW Upper Solu projects into the national grid through the new transmission line.

“Hence, the NEA will not be responsible for potential losses if the transmission line and substation are not constructed on time by the contractor,” said Ghising. 

The power line project needs to erect 303 transmission towers. “Only five towers have been erected so far while the bases of 50 towers have been completed,” said Janardan Prasad Gautam, chief of the project. “We have started work in Siraha and Udayapur districts. However, the main problem we are facing is the use of forest areas that needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.” 

The transmission line will pass through 22 villages in Mirchaiya in Siraha district to reach Tingla in Solu through Okhaldhunga district. The contractor has pledged to complete the substation in Tingla by December 2018.

Currently, 42 workers are engaged in the construction of the substation; and Ghising has asked that the labour force be increased so that the project can be completed within the timeline. The project was delayed by two years due to controversies over the appointment of a contractor.

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) investigated the bid selection process of the Solu Corridor transmission line project suspecting irregularities by the NEA bid evaluation committee. The Lower Solu and Upper Solu hydropower schemes have achieved physical progress of 50 and 85 percent respectively.

Published: 21-05-2018 08:26

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