Dechen Dolkar 

The six hydropower plants in the country are running in containment mode, keeping employees in isolation for continuity of business, should there be a community spread of Covid-19.

A total of 27 operation and maintenance employees are in isolation in six hydropower plants so far.

Chukha, Kurichhu, and Tala plants have five employees each in isolation, Dagachhu and Basochhu have two employees each, and Mangdechhu has eight employees in isolation.

Druk Green Power Corporation Limited’s (DGPCL) Managing Director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, said that since the Covid-19 pandemic started in Bhutan, the DGPC conducted extensive risk management reviews to ensure that the hydropower plants across Bhutan did not have to be shut down due to Covid-19, especially in case of a local community outbreak.

“The standard operating procedures (SOP) put in place was an extension of the SOPs issued by the government,” Dasho said.

The MD said that one of the most important measures was to keep a small contingent of employees in isolation away from the rest of the people in the colonies, and those providing operational and maintenance (O&M) services.

He said that the 1,020MW Tala hydropower plant kept about 33 employees in isolation during normal operation to keep their business continuity as per the DGPC continuity plan.

Since December 31, 2021, after the shutdown of the Tala plant, only five employees are in an isolation facility to keep business continuity in the event of community transmission of Covid-19 in the Tala plant area during the three months of its shutdown.

“We will increase the number of employees to 33 once again after the ongoing inspection and rectification activities of the headrace tunnel are completed,” MD said.

There are 471 employees at the Tala plant.

He said that they are placed in isolation either in the guesthouses or other isolated spaces and rotated regularly. The direct cost to DGPC is the cost of food that they arrange for those in isolation.