The joint audit between the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pointed out 18 audit observations on Punatshangchhu-II Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA-II) with a financial implication of Nu 1.2B.

However, based on the responses received and action taken, observations amounting to Nu 80M were either resolved or were not material enough for inclusion in the annual audit report.

This has resulted in total unresolved irregularities of Nu 1.12M, of which Nu 500M pertains to wasteful expenditure incurred for inadequate investigation in relocation of the power house.

The pre-feasibility study for the development of the project was carried out by a Norwegian consultant, which was again revised and submitted by WAPCOS between 2003 and 2004 for the preparation of detailed project report (DPR).

The revised report indicated that a proposal of an underground powerhouse was not feasible due to multiple sheer zones. Despite repeated recommendations, the annual audit report stated that some processes were overlooked making it difficult to predict rock mass conditions and presence of thick sheer zone. “Even detailed mapping was not explored to identify the sheer zones and classify the slope formation,” the report stated.

Thus changing of powerhouse from feasible surface powerhouse to underground without proper investigation resulted in hazardous mishap where six people lost their lives.

The audit report further stated that the project had delays of 307 days in completion of the milestone-1 (river care arrangement, excavation of adit and highway tunnels). There was also a delay of 750 days in completion of milestone-2 (concreting of dam up to 775M, excavation of intake, excavation of desilting chambers.) The milestone-2 also consists of completion of highway tunnel, where 480 days of delays was encountered due to non-issuance of drawings by WAPCOS.

“Due to delays in milestone-1 and milestone-2, milestone 3, construction of desilting chambers, concreting of intake and concreting of dam had not been even started at the time of its scheduled completion date of July 31, 2015,” the report stated.

The Joint audit also reported excess expenditure of Nu 76.8M on muck disposal. The project authority has paid contractors the haulage charge for distance more than the approved without any proper checking and restriction. As per the contract, rock materials from the five underground construction sites are allowed to be disposed in three approved areas, which ranged between 4.8KM to 0.60Km. The claims of the contractors were found higher than the approved distance.

The PHPA-II has also incurred 10.7M payments on transportation of boulders and 163M expenditure on deviated items, which are actually avoidable.

On the social front, the audit report stated that the project authority had not achieved planned targets in the afforestation works. The DPR provisioned Nu 24M for afforestation works in 600 hectares of forestland. However the project authority could only afforest 128 hectares till date costing Nu 7M.

The authority has also paid Nu 27.5M extra to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for non-deduction of price adjustments carried out.

Tshering Dorji