To better understand the geological challenges and progress at Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project (PHPA) I and II, more than a dozen members of parliament, led by the National Assembly Speaker, visited the project site on June 15.

The project management made a brief presentation of the progress, fund, and challenges.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that the parliamentarians raised concerns over the delay in the project and the cost increase due to it.

A senior PHPA I official said that the project was facing issues with reactivated local landslide downstream and unstable left bank of the dam site. A local landslide occurred in August 2016, about 90 meters downstream from the dam site.

“Although the landslide occurred in 2016, the local slide wasn’t cleared. So, in January this year, we tried to clear the slide and it was reactivated. This is the major hurdle we are facing right now,” he said.

Today the project management has directed the central water commission to conduct a thorough study on the issue and come up with a way forward.

The official added that following the major landslide in 2013 at the left bank of the dam, the land was still unstable.

The project has today used about Nu 77 billion (B) of Nu 94B budget. The project is targeted for completion by 2024.

On the other hand, PHPA II is expected to achieve the first unit of the project by October 2021. Managing Director Amresh Kumar said that about 83 percent of the project was completed.

“Since the collapse of the downstream surge chamber in March 2016, the project had to reconsider design assumptions and it required revalidation. Right now everything is going as per the schedule,” he said.

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue