NEA directs Chinese contractor to upgrade Dhalkebar substation
Contract with a Nepali sub-contractor to be terminated, a Chinese company to be hired to carry out the works
Kathmandu, July 29
Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has directed the Chinese contractor to expedite the process of upgrading the power substation in Dhalkebar to import additional quantum of electricity from India during the winter, when power generation drastically falls in the country.
NEA, the state-owned power utility, has hired Central China Power Grid International Economic and Trade Co to build the substation in Dhalkebar of Dhanusa district. This substation is connected to Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line, the biggest Nepal-India transmission line project, using which Nepal is currently importing around 80 megawatts of electricity from the southern neighbour.
Since the transmission line is currently being operated at 132 kV, Nepal cannot import more than 80 MW electricity from India. Works are being carried out to upgrade the substation so that the line can be charged at 220 kV. This will enable NEA to import up to 280 MW of electricity from India.
“India has already agreed to supply up to 200 MW of electricity using this transmission line ... We need to import this quantum of electricity during winter. Otherwise, load-shedding hours will go up,” Kanhaiya Kumar Manandhar, chief of Transmission Directorate at NEA, told The Himalayan Times.
Despite this urgency, works related to substation upgradation are moving ahead very slowly. “If this delay continues, we will not be able to complete the work by winter, when power deficit widens here due to shortage of water in rivers,” Manandhar said.
As per Manandhar, works are moving ahead slowly because of ‘a Nepali sub-contractor hired to carry out some of the works related to substation upgradation’. “We have asked the Chinese contractor to terminate contract with the subcontractor and hire a Chinese company to speed up the work,” Manandhar added.
The construction of 140-km cross-border transmission line, which extends from Dhalkebar in Nepal to Muzaffarpur in India, began as early as January 2007. Around 40-km of the transmission line lies in Nepal, and the remaining in India.
The transmission line, which came into operation in February, is expected to be upgraded to 400 kV by September 2017.
One of the reasons why Nepal is facing power cuts of around eight hours per day even during rainy season is lack of cross-border transmission lines to import electricity from India.
NEA is currently using 14 cross-border transmission lines — four of which are 132 kV and the rest of 33 kV capacity — to import electricity from India. However, electricity imported using 33 kV lines can only be used in areas in the vicinity of Nepal-India border.
Although Nepal and India have agreed to bring 132 kV Kusaha -Kataiya and Parwanipur-Raxaul transmission lines into operation within September 2016, works are moving ahead very slowly.
Also, delay in construction of transmission lines within the country has prevented NEA from effectively transporting power from one part of the country to the other.
For instance, early completion of 73-km 220 kV Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line could have enabled NEA to transport electricity from the Tarai to hilly region of the country. Similarly, early completion of 132 kV Hetauda-Matatirtha transmission line could have allowed NEA to bring in more electricity to Kathmandu.
“We are expecting Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line to come into operation by mid-September as we now need to fix cables in only seven to eight kilometres of the segment. Similarly, cables have already been fixed in the entire segment of Hetauda-Matatirtha transmission line. We only need to charge it now,” said Manandhar, adding, “Once these works are complete we’ll be able to divert more electricity from Dhalkebar area to Kathmandu.”