The 720MW Mangdechhu hydroelectric project is likely to be commissioned betweenMarch and June next year.

The project’s managing director, A K Mishra, said that the project is within the schedule stipulated in the detailed project report (DPR) despite of the challenges it faced.

He said that the monsoon has been the biggest setback for the project.

A.K Mishra said that the Dzongkhalum roadblock and collapse of the bridge last year had a major impact on the project.  “The Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) had to remanufacture the equipment as Toorsa flood in Phuentsholing last year washed away the equipment.”

He said that this monsoon also had some impact on the project but not to the extent of last year’s. Rain and road blockage has caused all the delays. “But with accelerated measures, the project is on track,” he said.

The managing director said that except for the tunnel lining of about 10km, four gates in the dam and two units in the powerhouse, all work are completed. “By the end of the year, only the tunnel lining will be left,” he said. “The project has reached a very crucial stage.”

According to the project’s progress report of June 30, the erection of steel lining of 5,000MT in the pressure shaft was completed on March 31 this year. Hydro test for three units of the distributor was completed on February 10.

With regard to the dam construction, concreting works covering 382,731 cumecs has been completed and a balance of 85,269 cumecs is yet to be completed.

Except for the excavation of 222m in the face 9 of the headrace tunnel (HRT), which is expected to be completed by August 31, all components of the HRT have been completed, according to the managing director.

All hydro-mechanical components of the work are expected to complete by April next year.

The progress report stated that the quality control and quality assurance division of the project has conducted 8,116 suitability tests during this quarter on different construction materials. “These tests signify that all necessary tests as per the quality assurance programme have been conducted and the use of specified materials has been assured.”

It also stated that in addition to this, 53 advanced tests (chemical and mechanical which cannot be conducted in-house) were conducted at laboratories outside.

The managing director said that the cost per MW comes to around Nu 65M including the transmission lines.

MHPA has built up manpower strength of 509, of which 471 (92.53 percent) are Bhutanese and 38 (7.47 percent) are Indian nationals.

The project cost as per the detailed project report (DPR) was around Nu 28.9B at 2008 price level, which was later revised to Nu 40.20B. The final cost which is yet to be approved (Nu 46.72B) is expected to be the final project cost.

As of June 30 this year, the project received Nu 40.52B, of which Nu 37.75B has been exhausted.

The bilateral agreement to execute the project was signed between the governments of India and Bhutan on April 30, 2010 with GoI funding of 30 percent grant and 70 percent loan at 10 percent annual interest to be paid back in thirty equated semi-annual installments.

Tshering Dorji