Phurpa Lhamo

A lack of consensus between the government and Jaiprakash Associates Limited (Jaypee Group) over Bhutan’s bargain to have 20 percent of powerhouse and dam construction be executed by Bhutanese contractors, and 80 percent by the Jaypee Group independently, is the reason the work at Kholongchu Hydro Electric Project Ltd (KHEL) is currently at a standstill.

Speaking at the national assembly yesterday, Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that of the three major projects at KHEL: head race tunnel (HRT), powerhouse and the dam, 80 percent of the HRT work will be executed through a joint venture of a Mumbai-based private company Valecha Engineering Private Ltd and Rigsar Construction. Twenty percent of the work will be executed by Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL).

However, with regard to the dam and powerhouse construction, Jaypee Group intends to execute the work and take CDCL as a sub-contractor.  

“If we clear this issue during the construction time, it will be an opportunity for Bhutanese contractors, and also the Bhutanese will learn skills,” Loknath Sharma said. 

KHEL is expected to generate about 2,568.88 million (M) units annually. 

Minister Loknath Sharma also presented an update on the Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project I &II (PI and PII).

Questioning the progress at PI and PII, Bartsham Shongphu Member of Parliament (MP), Passang Dorji, said that since work at PI started about 13 years ago, more than Nu 93.75 billion (B) has been spent on the project. This is an increase from the initial estimate of Nu 35.14B. 

Similarly, PII has spent Nu 72.9B, an increase from an initial estimate of Nu 37.77B.

Minister Loknath Sharma said that at PI, 87 percent of the work was completed and around Nu 81B was spent. At PII, almost 90 percent of the work has been completed.

Minister Loknath Sharma said that the PI project will be complete by 2025 after the detailed project report (DPR) is completed in February next year. 

Stating that the DPR for Kuri Gongri and Dorjilung, Nyera Ama Chhu, Gamrichu, Kholongchhu, Zhongarchhu, Chamkharchhu, Wangchu, Amochu and Sunkosh were ready, Kengkhar Weringla MP Rinzin Jamtsho asked if the government planned to begin new hydropower projects in the next two years.

To this, the minister said that instead of more hydropower projects, the government will focus on projects that have already begun and ensure results. 

He said that new hydropower projects will be commenced but won’t be rushed. 

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk