A committee of eight experts from Bhutan and India will review the proposal to build a barrage to replace the dam at the 1,200MW Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project (PI) and present their recommendation to the governments by the end of January next year.
The committee consists of four members from either country.
Kuensel learnt that Bhutanese officials presented the construction of a barrage as feasible instead of a dam. The DPR, prepared by a company from Switzerland, Stucky, at a cost of Nu 150 Million (M), found the barrage to be feasible at a location 2.6 km upstream from the current PI dam site.
However, the government of India officials felt that the barrage was not suitable for safety reasons and expressed their reservations about the barrage proposal.
During the Indian Power Secretary’s visit to Bhutan last month, the two secretaries decided to institute a committee, with members from both sides and explore solutions.
Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that this would be the final decision and the committee should submit a report to the government by end of January.
The decision to construct the barrage came after the right bank of the dam experienced multiple landslides. The project witnessed its first slide in July 2013, followed by a slide in August 2016, and another in January 2019.
The cost of construction of the barrage is estimated between Nu 16 and Nu 18 Billion.
Dispute between L&T and PI
Meanwhile, a contract company in PI, Larson & Toubro (L&T), is negotiating a dispute regarding claims. Currently, negotiation is being done through arbitration and arbitration asked them to settle with the negotiator settlement committee.
According to the Chairperson of the project, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, L&T has made 13 claims and claims prior to 2015 amounting to Nu 3 to Nu 4B.
“Currently, the dispute is at the negotiator settlement committee, since the attribution tribunal on sitting charges for the chairperson of the tribunal is very high,” Lyonpo said.
PI and L&T are trying to negotiate a settlement after the Supreme Court of India instructed that the dispute between them be arbitrated in Bhutan.
Earlier, L&T asked PI authorities to compensate them with Nu 3.91B for keeping their machines and human resources idle after problems surfaced with the dam construction.
Similarly, the 600MW Kholongchhu, Lyonpo said that the Joint Venture, Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and SJVNL are closing the accounts which would be completed by December end. “The way forward will be decided by DGPC after closing the accounts.”
The DGPC Managing Director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said that they are going to start working on how to take the project forward once they finish the transaction of taking over the project.