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Upper Tamakoshi contractor pledges to pick up pace

  • Minister Pun tells officials to come up with a work schedule within a week
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Dec 11, 2018-

Texamo, the Indian contractor executing the hydro-mechanical works of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project, promised to get its act together and expedite work to meet the new deadline of mid-November 2019 after a pep talk by the energy minister.

Last week, Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun summoned Texamo and project officials and told the contractor’s representative to come up with a work schedule within seven days after the 456 MW project looked like missing the deadline for the third time.

More than 95 percent the construction work at the national pride project has been completed, but the Indian contractor is yet to complete the crucial task of fitting the penstock pipes at the power plant. The penstock pipes deliver water from the dam into the turbines in the powerhouse to generate electricity.

During the meeting, Pun warned the hydro-mechanical contractor that its contract could be terminated if it did not come up with an executable schedule, according to Roshan Khadka, press advisor to the minister. “The Indian contractor promised to present the work schedule within 10 days and stick to it to meet the completion deadline,” said Khadka.

Apart from summoning Texamo, Pun also used diplomatic channels to put pressure on the slowpoke contractor so that it would get its act together and expedite the construction work. Upper Tamakoshi is a strategic project designed to end the country’s perennial power crisis.

“The minister complained to Indian Embassy officials in Kathmandu about the contractor’s indifferent attitude and asked them to play their role in making it accountable,” said Khadka. “The officials told us that they had spoken with the chairman of the Indian company about the issue.” Pun seems to be convinced by Texamo’s promise to speed things up, but Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) officials doubt its ability to execute the crucial job of installing the penstock pipes.

Sources at the NEA, which is one of the promoters of the project, said an alternative to Texamo must be found in order to meet the revised completion deadline. Due to the delay, the project has faced cost overruns. The project was initially planned to be built at a cost of Rs35 billion, but the final bill is now expected to reach Rs50 billion. The total cost will reach Rs70 billion if interest is added.

Nevertheless, the project is considered to be a role model project which is being developed with domestic resources and a high level of participation by project-affected locals and the general public.

After the Upper Tamakoshi roars into life, Nepal is projected to have surplus energy at least during the wet season, and the NEA will be in a position to export electricity to neighbouring India. During the wet season, surplus energy can be transmitted over the Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line to the Dhalkebar substation and on to the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line for export to India.

Published: 11-12-2018 09:01

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