Nepal | July 13, 2020

Cement shortage hits hydel projects

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, September 23

Construction of hydropower projects have stalled due to shortage of cement as its import has been halted because of new standards set by Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology for imported cement this fiscal.

The NBSM made Nepal Standard certification mandatory for imported cement from mid-July. Foreign manufacturers supplying cement to Nepal have to follow quality, packaging and labelling criteria fixed by NBSM.

Hydropower projects, which use huge quantity of cement, are suffering as domestic manufacturers can’t supply the required amount.

India is the main source country for cement import, however, with the new rules, Indian manufacturers need to take approval from NBSM to supply cement.

According to cement importers, many cement manufacturers in India are reluctant to set up a separate plant to produce sacks for packaging cement as required by the NBSM as the new rule may increase their cost. However, some Indian manufacturers, namely Jaypee Cement and Star Cement, have already received approval from NBSM to supply cement as per the Nepal Standard. Three more manufacturers have also submitted applications.

Earlier, NBSM used to check the sample at the customs point. However, it has introduced mandatory provision that the supplier has to abide by the Nepal Standard criteria to supply cement to Nepal.

Infrastructure projects, particularly hydropower projects, have been affected as supply from India has plummeted after the new rules were implemented.

According to Kulman Ghising, managing director of Nepal Electricity Authority, generation projects initiated by the power utility, namely Upper Trishuli 3A, Lower Sanjen, Upper Sanjen and Rasuwagadi, are facing acute shortage of cement. Some independent power producers are also facing a similar problem, according to Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal.

Hydro projects require 43 and 53 grade Portland Pozzolana Cement. Indian manufacturers used to supply higher grade cement for infrastructure projects. Work in these hydel projects have stalled because domestic manufacturers can’t supply the required amount of cement, as per developers.

According to the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nepal, of the total 48 cement factories in operation, 14 with their own clinker production plants have cement production capacity of eight million metric tonnes, or around 160 million sacks a year. However, annual demand stands at over 200 million tonnes.

A version of this article appears in print on September 24, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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