Dechen Dolkar

The governments of Bhutan and India have tasked the Technical Coordination Committee (TCC) with reviewing and proposing a path forward for the 1,200MW Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project (Puna-I) dam.

Comprising eight members from the Inter-Government Group (IGG), the committee has now submitted its findings to both governments.

A mutual decision has been made to initiate geological investigation studies at the dam site and the right bank side of Puna-I.

Power sector officials have indicated that, within this month, the TCC will determine the extent of additional geotechnical investigations required at the dam site.

These investigations will then be carried out by the project management or a designated consultant.

The objective is to expedite these investigations as much as possible. They are crucial in establishing the foundation for necessary stabilisation measures to guarantee the dam’s technical safety.

Once the geological model is established, experts will engage in an extensive analysis to identify the type and scope of stabilisation measures needed.

One of Bhutan’s primary concerns revolves around the dam’s safety and stability, given the potential significant downstream impacts of any dam failure on lives and properties.

A power official emphasized the importance of constructing a technically-secure and cost-effective dam for the project’s success.

The construction of the barrage was prompted by multiple landslides on the right bank of the dam. The project experienced its initial slide in July 2013, followed by incidents in August 2016 and January 2019.