The 770MW Chamkharchu project would receive priority

Hydropower: If the decision of the 14th empowered joint group (EJG) meeting held on August 3 is any indication, the country would soon embark on construction of three more joint venture (JV) hydropower projects to generate 1,520MW of electricity.

The empowered joint group has decided to expedite the implementation of 570 MW Wangchu, 180MW Bunakha and 770MW Chamkharchu.

Along with the 600MW Kholongchu, these three projects were approved last year during the 12th EJG meeting.

The economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk who is also the chairman of the EJG, said the JV companies were instructed to begin with the process of implementation immediately. Once this is done, he said the shareholder agreement would be finalised and incorporate these companies under the companies Act of the country.

He said the companies were also asked to explore financing options. “We have given special thrust on the Chamkharchu to start as soon as possible because this is a standalone project,”  Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said.

The Bunakha reservoir project and the Wangchu projects would take some time as they share a common river basin and cost would have to be apportioned with Chukha and Tala projects. This was because the two new projects would either benefit or reap the benefit  of the two existing projects located on the same river.

Along with the EJGM, the first board meeting of Kholongchu was also held on August 3. Khonlongchu was incorporated as Kholongchu Hydroelectric project exactly a month ago.

The board has now decided to establish offices in Zangpozore, Trashiyantse, one in Samdrupjongkhar and a small liaison office in Thimphu. The board has also issued the directive to work out the human resource requirement and proceed with the recruitment.

Works to construct 40KM access road and two baily bridges has also been approved and the preparation to float the tenders for the main packages such as tunnels, dam and powerhouse would start very soon.

“It is a milestone for Kholongchu and it is important because Kholongchu should set precedence for other three JV projects,” the economic affairs minister said.

A public sector company from India and Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) holds 50 percent equity share holding each in all the four JV projects.

The financing modality would be done on a 70 percent loan and 30 percent equity basis.  This means that DGPC and the public sector companies from India would be investing 15 percent each to make the 30 percent equity. The two investors however, will have to avail loan for the remaining 70 percent of the project cost.

DGPC’s 15 percent equity would come in as a grant from the government of India.

Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SVNL) is DGPC’s partner for the Nu 38B Kholongchu project and the Nu 46.4B Wangchu hydropower project.

The Nu 29.5B Bunakha project would be undertaken as a joint venture between DGPC and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation limited. India.

The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation of India  (NHPC) will partner DGPC in the Nu 47.7B Chamkharchu project.

Tshering Dorji