Nepal | July 07, 2020

UTHL pushes back project completion deadline

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, April 14

Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Ltd (UTHL) has postponed the completion deadline for 456-megawatt Upper Tamakoshi hydroelectric project until December 2017, as it struggles to make a recovery from damage caused by quakes of last April and May.

The run-of-the-river project, being built in Dolakha district through funds made available by domestic financial institutions and companies, had originally set completion deadline of mid-July 2016. But due to the nine-month delay in commencement of construction works in initial stage, the deadline was postponed till February 2017.

“We’ve been forced to postpone the deadline once again because the earthquakes have completely damaged access road to the project site and affected a crucial infrastructure,” Ganesh Neupane, environment chief and spokesperson at UTHL, said.

The earthquakes have caused the intake block of dam to sink by 18 cm.

“Despite this, good news is the intake block has moved down vertically without creating a slope, so we won’t have to rebuild it. That’s what five experts from the US who were hired to conduct a study told us,” Neupane said, adding, “The downward movement of the block, however, may cause the water to leak, so we’ll have to use waterstops.”

UTHL will adopt this precautionary measure and resume other works at dam site once access road is rebuilt.

The quakes had completely damaged 68-km access road that links Charikot to Lamabagar, where the dam of the project is located. So far, the developer has reopened 57-km segment of the access road that stretches from Charikot to Gongar, where the project’s powerhouse is being built.

“With the opening of this track, we are set to resume works at powerhouse site beginning May,” Neupane said.

But UTHL still has not been able to fully reopen 11-km segment of the access road that stretches from powerhouse to dam site.

“This is actually the place where an entire hill had collapsed. The damage has been so severe at one segment of around 360 metres, we cannot even build an ordinary road by removing the deposits of mud and rocks. So, we have no other option but to build a tunnel at that spot,” Neupane said. “Vehicular movement on this segment will resume once the tunnel is built.”

A UTHL consultant has already submitted a report on tunnel construction.

“We will table this proposal at next board meeting, which will take place in a couple of days,” Neupane informed. “Once we get a green signal, it will take us four to five months to build the tunnel. Works at the dam site will also resume once the tunnel is ready.”

Around this time, UTHL will also seek permits from local bodies and other concerned authorities to build 47-km 220kV transmission line from Gongar to Khimti.

“Since we have already figured out how to move ahead, we hope we will be able to commence the operation of the project within December 2017,” Neupane said.

The project, which has so far completed around 77.5 per cent of the works, is being financed by Nepal Electricity Authority, which has a stake of 41 per cent in UTHL. Other shareholders include: Nepal Telecom (NT) (six per cent), Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) (two per cent), Rastriya Beema Sansthan (RBS) (two per cent), public (15 per cent), locals of Dolakha (10 per cent), and depositors of Employees Provident Fund (EPF), and employees of NT, RBS, CIT and EPF (24 per cent).

UTHL is yet to offer 10 per cent of the company’s shares to locals and another 15 per cent of the shares to the public. “We are planning to do that in a year’s time.”

A version of this article appears in print on April 15, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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