The Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL) has refuted Mangdechhu Hydroelectric project Authority’s (MHPA) claim that the three-month delay in construction of the 720MW Mangdechhu is due to labour constraints and liquidity issues on part of the contractor.
In an interview with Kuensel last week, the project’s managing director A.K Mishra had said that the number of labourers dropped from 3,500 to 1,000 today. He also said that the project has been pumping money to make up for the liquidity issues the contractors face.
The Vice President of JAL, Parvinder Singh (Rtd Brigadier) said it is unfair to blame the contractors for the delay and that JAL submits a monthly labour report to the project authority.
“It is true that we had 3,500 workers during the peak season when there were so many works to complete,” Parvinder Singh said. “Now as works are being completed, it does not make sense to deploy thousand of workers at the dam top,” he said.
JAL has been awarded two components of the project (C1, which is the dam component and C3, which constitutes the powerhouse). When the works were awarded in 2012, duration for C1 was 59 months and C3 was 54 months. This means that dam components should have been completed by February 2017 and powerhouse by September 2016.
“But it doesn’t work that way when most of the works are executed underground,” the Vice President of JAL said.
He said that the consultants design the components based on simple drilling, which means the design is based on the surface geology.
“As we dig deeper, we encounter different geology and the design has to be changed,” he said.
“It is a known fact that no investigation can predict the underground geology.”
For instance, he said that it is natural for underground works to slow down when rock condition and soil are not stable as steel ribs have to be laid. But when the rock condition is good, he said no ribs are required and progress is achieved.
Due to the variation in design, geology and specification, he said that the quantity of works in the dam increased by 50 percent and powerhouse by 100 percent.
In addition to this, he said Dungsam Cement, which the contractor has been using stopped production for more than two months. Road in Kamji was washed away by slides and it took two months to erect a bridge. The Dzongkhalum slide caused major impact, in terms of transportation.
Parvinder Singh also said that JAL has to establish transit camp in the affected areas and limit the carrying capacities of the trucks. “When there is a problem in getting the equipment to the site, what is the use of putting 2,000 workers?” he said.
In terms of financial capacity, he said that as a huge project, it is agreed practice that contractors do the work and get paid periodically. “The project authority has been considerate of releasing the payment for goods whenever required rather than waiting for months,” he said. “At least for this project, we don’t have financial issues.”
As for the labourers, he said that it is natural for contractors to reduce the number of workers as works near completion.