Hydel construction in limbo amid fuel crunch
Pokhara, December 8
Construction work on the 25 MW Upper Madi Hydropower Project has halted for three months now, after scarcity of fuel as well as other necessary construction materials and equipment hit the project hard.
So far, 82 per cent work on the project, located in Sildujure and Namarjun VDCs of Kaski, has been completed.
According to project Assistant Coordinator Raj Kuamr Baral, the work was halted in the face of fuel crisis and shortage of construction materials such as cement and steel, among others.
“As construction work has been halted, around 600 workers have been sent home. Even a few Chinese workers have gone back to their country,” said Baral, adding that the project needed 5,000 litres of fuel each day.
Further, Baral said the project had incurred a loss of over Rs 1.5 billion due to disruption in construction work after the blockade. “The project has to bear a loss of over Rs 50 million each day,” he said, adding, “While equipment, including the hired ones, is lying idle, water has accumulated in the tunnel posing a risk of landslide there.”
Project Director Bijayababu Malla also rued the fact that construction had halted. “After the construction of the 4.2 km long tunnel, work on concrete lining plaster had barely started before it was halted due to the fuel crisis,” he lamented.
According to him, 90 per cent work for the construction of intake has finished and civil engineering work at the power house has been completed with just turbine installation remaining.
The project, which was earlier estimated to be completed by April 2016, is financially supported by China International Water and Electric Corporation.
Malla has invested 20 per cent of the total investment.
The project is being built by a Chinese contractor company-Sino Hydro.
“Though the project would have been completed in the estimated time, the deadline this time will most likely be extended thanks to the bandhs and fuel crisis,” Malla said, adding, “It looks like the project’s total cost will cross Rs 8 billion against the earlier estimation of Rs 6.6 billion.”
Three years ago, then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had laid the foundation stone for the project.