Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay inaugurated the tunnelling work of adit four and the head race tunnel (HRT) of Nikachu hydropower project (NHP) at Tangsibji in Trongsa yesterday.

The inauguration began with an inaugural blasting.

Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL) had taken the tunnelling work from the main contractor, Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) and they will tunnel about 3.126kms, which includes both the adit and a portion of HRT.

It is CDCL’s first job with NHP and the project period is until December 2019.

The tunnel will be five meters high and wide.

Adit four is located right below the east-west highway, few meters before reaching Tshangkha from Tsheringmodrubchu towards Trongsa.

CDCL’s chief executive officer, Phuntsho Gyeltshen, said the corporation has prepared for three years to take up the job. “We are happy that we are able to start today,” he said.

He said works under hydropower projects require the expertise of operators and engineers. “We have trained our operators and engineers at the hydropower projects in the country and outside as well.”

CDCL officials said they purchased machines worth Nu 204 million (M) to execute the work.

CDCL also has three tunnelling work packages under Nyera Amari project in Samdrupjongkhar, where they completed 30 percent of the 1.6kms tunnelling work as of now.

Phuntsho Gyeltshen said they have also started taking up stringing works from Jemina in Thimphu and they are also planning to take up stringing work for NHP.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, during the inaugural session, said he is proud that CDCL is able to work in the field of hydropower projects now. “For 39 years, since the construction of Chukha hydropower project, Bhutanese contractors have never been able to take up main jobs in hydropower until today,” he said. “Bhutanese contractors could construct only roads and houses for the projects.”

He said about 90kms of tunnels were dug since 1978 after the construction of Chukha hydropower project. “It is a historic moment for Bhutanese to have a Bhutanese agency executing the tunnelling work.”

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa