Hydropower: Joint Secretary (North) with the external affairs ministry, Abhay Thakur, who visited the Punatsangchu Hydropower Project Authority I (PHPA I) site along with other Indian delegates, yesterday said the revised cost of Nu 93.75B, which the union cabinet approved last month, was justified.

“I think we are on right track and we are optimistic that the projects would complete on time with the approval of revised cost,” he said.

Abhay Thakur said PHPA I, even after cost escalation is less than Nu 80M per Mega Watt and the PHPA II, after the proposed expected cost escalation would be in the range of Nu 70M per MW.

“These rates are extremely competitive and anywhere else in South Asia, the projects are more expensive and more difficult in terms of financing,” he said.

On media reports about India having surplus electricity, secretary of external affairs, Sujata Mehta said it’s not true and that India is desperately energy short. “We are looking to maximise the sources of energy we have,” she said. “With a population size as large as ours, having power surplus is a distant dream.”

As far as the projects that are done in collaboration between India and Bhutan, she said, there will be no issue of not buying. “There is an inter government agreement which exists that the power generation at these joint projects would be purchased by India,” she said.

The secretaries were on site visit to PHPA I and II after attending a meeting of the empowered joint group for hydropower projects in the country.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue