Kathmandu, November 23
The Chameliya hydropower project has started the operation of its 133kV transmission line from Balanch of Darchula to Attariya of Kailali district.
The project announced that it successfully brought the 131-kilometre-long transmission line into operation at 1:55pm today.
“Chameliya hydropower project transmission line was charged at 132kV this afternoon,” Energy Secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyaya informed.
As per its schedule, the project has targeted to generate electricity from December 12, if everything goes as planned. According to Ajay Kumar Dahal, chief of the 30-megawatt Darchula-based project, Chameliya aimed to charge the transmission line before generating energy.
Through this transmission, the generated electricity from the project will be connected to the national grid.
The project is set to test its tunnel in the next few days, Dahal said. “After completion of first phase of construction works, we will start the test operation of the project. It will take another 15 to 20 days to complete the whole construction process,” Dahal informed.
Chameliya hydropower project had suffered a long delay after its 843-metre tunnel caved in due to ‘technical fault’ followed by a dispute with the Chinese contractor China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC). CGGC, the contractor of the Chameliya Hydropower Project, had reopened the tunnel that had caved in by mudslides in March first week. The works of reopening the 843-metre section of the tunnel that had caved in started on September 28, 2015.
The project had successfully tested its dam radial gates and intake gates in the first week of May.
The project, which was initiated in January of 2007, was supposed to be completed in May of 2011. But, it has already been six years since the initial deadline expired, which has caused revenue loss of around Rs two billion every year to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
NEA has been bearing a huge loss not only in terms of revenue but also due to increase in foreign exchange rate owing to the project construction delays. Nepali currency has depreciated heavily vis-à-vis the US dollar from Rs 72 in 2007 to around Rs 104 at present. Roughly per megawatt cost of the Chameliya Hydroelectricity Project will be above Rs 500 million (including the cost of road connectivity to the project area, local electrification and transmission line), as per NEA officials. The cost is significantly higher than the normal cost of Rs 150 million per megawatt.
A version of this article appears in print on November 24, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.