Nim Dorji | Trongsa

After a delay of almost a year, Nikachhu Hydropower Project (NHP) is expected to be operational by June 2022.

The project’s deputy managing director, Sujan Rai, said that the project faced labour shortage due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Geological surprises also affect the progress of the project.

“If there are no further geological surprises, the project can be completed by June 2022,” Sujan Rai said.

Almost 64 percent of the Nu 11.96 billion project has been completed.

In the absence of skilled workers from India, the project has recruited 633 Bhutanese youth. They are trained in welding, shuttering, crane operation and other works.

Almost 1300 Indian workers went back due to the pandemic.

“We have started to bring skilled workers now. The first batch of Indian workers has joined the project,” Sujan Rai said.

The project sought approval to bring 500 workers from India; 70 are being quarantined in Phuntsholing.

Sujan Rai said that the Bhutanese youth were learning fast. “The progress we have been able to achieve after the pandemic is thanks to them.”

Kuenzang Choki has been working with the project for the last five months. She said that the work was challenging but she learnt a lot.

The Construction Development Corporation Limited is executing construction of the tunnel, which is almost complete. The breakthrough between face 8 and 9 of the headrace tunnel excavation was conducted on December 5.

After the completion of the project, water from NHP’s tailrace tunnel will be connected to the Dam of MHPA, giving additional power generation capacity to MHPA during lean season.