Works on the first joint venture between Bhutan and India starts preconstruction

JV: A controlled blasting on a hillock in Tomijangsa signaled the commencement of the 600MW Kholongchu Hydroelectric Project (KHP) in Trashiyangtse yesterday.

It was more than two years ago when posts for the survey of KHP were erected in the jungles indicating the government had plans to come with a hydroelectric project (HP) in their dzongkhag.

The sleepy gewog of Trashigang were sensing a big change since then because Bhutan was gearing towards generating 10,000 MW of electricity by 2020.

Recently, the economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk formally handed over the certificate of incorporation to the managing directors of DGPC and the Indian counter part SJVN on July 3.

It signified that KHP is now registered under the Company’s Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2000.

With the management formed, the first joint venture between Bhutan and India started preconstruction works yesterday. Works for approach roads and two bridges to the main components of the project are underway.

Preconstructions are expected to complete in 18 months and KHP would also be tendering out works for the main components like the dam, surge shaft and powerhouse among others.

Kholongchu Hydro Energy Limited (KHEL) has contracted works for the power supply during the construction period to Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) for Nu 520M after a MoU was signed on September 9.

A 132KV line between Kelikhar and Kanglung would be constructed to tap the power down to Korlong where the electricity would be distributed at 33 volts wherever required.

Interconnection to another 400KV line would be carried out. The line would cater to the project activities at Yangbari. The DPR cost for the line is around Nu 4.2B but is subject to change.

One of the new two project bridges located about 10Km down from Buyang would drastically cut the distance between Khamdang and Tomijangsa gewogs. Currently, people of Khamdang have to travel down towards Trashigang and tread a farm road to reach Tomijangsa.

Approach road constructions have been divided into four packages and the total length of the roads would come to about 30Km. The total contracted amount is Nu 350M.

Construction of the components of the projects would begin after the roads are connected to the sites.

Land compensations have already started with the dzongkhag taking up the responsibility. However, affected people like Karma Yuden are not happy with the connection.

“My only seven decimal land fell on the project area and I am not entitled for land substitution; I don’t have options other than to go for compensation at the government rate,” she said. According to the land act, land owners owning lesser than 10 decimal land are not entitled for land substitution. And the government’s PAVA rate is lesser than the market rates.

However, there is an air of optimism. There are high possibilities of the dzongkhag’s proposal of having an integrated colony at the new Doksum town (Khetsang). Now that the management of KHEL has been formed, proposals, sources say, is already through and the modalities are under discussion.

The project will commission in 77 months, including 18 months of pre-construction activities, at an estimated cost of Nu 38.689B at June 2013 price level.  On completion, it’s expected to generate 2,568M units of electricity annually.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashiyangtse