KATHMANDU, July 9: The Middle Bhotekoshi Hydroelectric Project, which has already been delayed by half a decade, is very likely to miss even the revised deadline for commercial production as the project was hit by the rain-triggered floods Wednesday night.
The flood in the Bhotekoshi River in Sindhupalchowk district inundated the powerhouse of the 102 megawatt hydropower project while sweeping away a number of equipment from the project site. According to project officials, the damage caused by the flood is estimated to be worth billions of rupees.
The project’s chief Sunil Kumar Lama said the flood swept away mainly the electromechanical equipment of the hydro project and the powerhouse is filled with thick muddy water. According to him, the dam is severely damaged and the warehouse is covered under landslide debris.
Construction work of the hydroelectricity project began in 2013, and it was expected to start churning out electricity by 2016. But the project missed a succession of completion deadlines due to natural disasters, land compensation issues and delays by the civil and hydro mechanical contractor Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau. The latest completion deadline for the run-of-the-river project had been set for November 2020.
The Chinese company, hired under an engineering, procurement and construction contract, had stopped work for over six months citing the lack of equipment and building materials and funding issues. The work was resumed only in May last year after the authorities warned the contractor that it could be fired. The contractor then replaced its project manager and resumed work at the construction site.
Due to delays in completing the project, the estimated cost of Rs12 billion has swelled by more than Rs 2 billion. The project is set to evacuate electricity through a 4-kilometre transmission line from the plant’s switchyard to the Barhabise substation.
Meanwhile, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) that is reeling under heavy financial losses with a fall in electricity demand due to the lockdown has got some respite as the electricity demand has climbed back to the normal time demand.
According to the NEA, the electricity consumption on Wednesday was recorded at 25 million units, which is similar to the demand of normal times. The increased commercial activity of late with an ease in lockdown has helped raise the demand for electricity.
Currently, the peak hour demand for electricity is around 1,200 MW. While the NEA’s hydroelectricity projects supply 462 MW, the private sector-run projects supply 547 MW. To fill up the gap, Nepal imports 183 MW of electricity from India during the peak hour.