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Kulekhani-3 project misses deadline for sixth time

  • Construction began in 2008 and was expected to be done by 2012
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Feb 17, 2019-

The much awaited Kulekhani-3 Hydropower Project has again missed its completion deadline of January 2019 due to the dillydallying by a Chinese contractor hired for the job. This is not the first time that the 14MW power project has missed the completion deadline which was revised multiple times due to the slow progress of Jheijian Jialin Company—hired for the hydro and electro mechanical works.

The project’s completion deadline has been extended six times since construction began in April 2008. It was originally scheduled to be finished by 2012.

Although Sino Hydro—another Chinese contractor hired for the civil work—has completed its job, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) owned project failed to start the trail production in January as earlier planned.

Now, the project office is planning to start the trail production by mid-March. Subash Mishra, the project chief of the Kulekhani-3, however, is not sure if they will be able to meet the new deadline although only 10-12 percent of the electromechanical work needs to be done.

“We can’t fire the Chinese contractor as no other contractor will be interested in finishing up the remaining work. Additionally, Jheijian Jialin has already purchased all of the electromechanical equipment to be installed at the power plant and another contractor will not take the guarantee of such equipment,” said Mishra. “We are trying our best to make Jheijian Jialin complete the work by the next month.”

According to Mishra, the project office is planning to start filling the tunnel with water within a week and begin testing the different structures and equipment.  

Similarly, construction of a track and other related infrastructure to access the powerhouse has already been completed. The construction of a 129-metre bridge over the Rapti River, one of the key components of the project, was completed nine years ago.

The project will produce electricity by utilising the tailrace water from the Kulekhani II Hydropower Project and water from local rivers. The water will be channelled through a 4-km-long tunnel to the powerhouse to turn the turbines. According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, the electricity generated by the project will be fed into the national grid by extending a half-kilometre-long transmission line from the powerhouse.  

The Kulekhani III Hydropower Project is being constructed with domestic investment. 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. It has now ballooned to Rs5 billion.

In May 2014, the National Planning Commission declared Kulekhani III a troubled project. Initially, the project had estimated that the construction cost per megawatt of power would reach Rs173.6 million. As per the revised estimate, it is expected to reach Rs310 million per megawatt.

Published: 17-02-2019 08:08

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