Middle Bhotekoshi Hydroelectric project hits another setback

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Mar 9, 2019-

The construction of the Middle Bhotekoshi Hydroelectric Project, which had started to pick up speed after being stymied by a series of natural disasters like the 2015 earthquake, floods and soil erosion, has once again hit a setback with the contractor having money problems.

Gaungxi Hydro-Electric Construction Bureau, the contractor for the civil and hydro-mechanical works at the 102 MW plant located in Sindhupalchok district, has not been able to bring the appropriate equipment for lack of cash, raising concerns about the quality of construction.

The consultant for the project said the Chinese contractor failed to maintain the quality of construction at the head works as per the contract agreement. The consultancy firm Tractebel has asked the Chinese contractor Gaungxi to bring equipment like tower cranes, mobile cranes and green cutters to ensure quality of construction. Such machinery is used while concreting the civil structure.  

Project owner Madhya Bhotekoshi Jalavidyut Company has also dispatched a notice to correct letter to Gaungxi asking it to bring the equipment named by the consultant and maintain adequate stocks of construction materials.

“We sent the letter on February 27 asking them to mobilise the proper equipment and put together a 45-day supply of construction materials in 14 days and complete digging 250 metres of tunnel in one month,” said Sunil Lama, the company appointed project chief of Middle Bhotekoshi. “If the contractor fails to comply with the direction, it might lead to the contract being terminated.”

According to Lama, the Chinese contractor has a cash flow problem. “We hired Gaungxi under an engineering procurement and construction contract; and accordingly, the contractor has to purchase the equipment required for the construction on its own,” said Lama. “But the contractor is short of money to buy such machinery, and without such machinery, it is impossible to achieve the desired quality of construction.”

As a result, the project is going to miss its completion deadline of June 2019. The 102 MW plant will take another two years to start generating electricity, according to Lama. “Even if we carry out the construction work at a rapid pace, it will take at least one and a half years to complete it,” he said.  

The contractor has completed digging more than 60 percent of the tunnel which will channelise water from the Bhotekoshi River to the powerhouse to generate electricity. Out of the 7.1-km length of the tunnel, 4.5 km has been dug. Similarly, the contractor is constructing the civil structure of the powerhouse.    

The development of the project was initially estimated to cost Rs12.28 billion. The project office revised the estimate upward to Rs14.84 billion due to time overruns and an appreciation of the US dollar against the Nepali rupee.

Published: 09-03-2019 09:50

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