With preconstruction works at the Kholongchu project in Trashiyangtse almost complete, Trashiyangtse residents are worried that there are no signs of any major activities.

Some residents said the project might not materialise if concerned authorities do not push for it.

“We had high expectations from the project but in the last three years, only access roads and two bridges were constructed,” said a resident, Sangay Dema. “If this continues, I’m afraid the project might be cancelled affecting all of us here.”

The 37-year-old farmer said she had taken a loan to build a house for the project staff. “There is only one teacher living at my house today. I don’t think I would be able to repay the loan if this continues.”

Kholongchu Hydro Energy Limited (KHEL) began scaling down its operations after receiving no indications from its board to begin the main civil works.

Project officials said if the main works started by the beginning of the year, it would have recruited more than 100 people by now.

It was learnt that the total approved strength of the project would have been around 498 had the project’s main work commenced.

Currently, there are 63 staff at the company of which 38 are on deputation from Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and six from Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN).

Nineteen officials, who are mostly engineers and non-technical officers, are on contract.

However, project officials said that although activities at the project have slowed, there are other events that are being carried on, which is of equal importance.

KHEL’s managing director, Parveen Gupta, said the project is undertaking additional field tests including geotechnical explorations and surveys while the project is currently on hold.

“It is not that we are not doing anything since the major works have not yet begun,” he said. “This holdup has given us time for extensive preconstruction investigations to be carried out so that we can have better clarity of what we might encounter once the main works begin.”

The MD said that if not for the holdup, these investigations are usually conducted after the completion of the works, which if found faulty, could change the whole plan and incur major cost implications.

The project’s technical director, Dinesh Sapru, said that the project has been undertaking series of investigation with the models of the actual project components to see its functionalities in a real-world application including the refining of designs.

“Everything should be right. We cannot expect surprises in the middle once the project starts,” he said. “Since we have the time to check things in advance, it gives us an advantage which is not usually possible in other projects.”

Since the beginning of the preconstruction works at the project in September 2015, a total of 31km of access roads and two bailey bridges have been constructed.

A 33kV substation in Korlung with a 19km 132kV line near Doksum is also nearing completion.

A total of Nu 1.992 billion has been spent so far.

Meanwhile, the project should have begun its main civil works by the beginning of the year. Kuensel learnt that the concession agreement, which in principle is ready, has not been signed yet.

It was understood that certain clauses with the Government of India’s guidelines on cross-border electricity trade that was issued in December 2016 led to a complication with the signing of the concession agreement.

The main civil works would take another 59 months to complete. It would include the construction of 95ms concrete gravity dam that would be about 165ms long and about 6ms wide.

Another major component would be the 15.77km headrace tunnel (HRT) that would be some 5.7ms in diameter. A powerhouse measuring 132ms long, 21ms wide and 42.5ms high will also be constructed near the substation in Korlung.

Another stream, Chaplangchu would be added to the HRT to augment the water supply during lean seasons.

Once completed, the run-of-the-water scheme project would deliver 600 MW of electricity and generate 2,568.88 GWh (Gigawatt hours) of energy a year.

Younten Tshedup | Trashiyangtse