KATHMANDU, Feb 18: The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has started its first phase of the underground electricity distribution system by laying underground power wires in Kathmandu. The first phase of the project will begin with works in areas under Ratnapark and Maharajgunj distribution center.
The inception of the underground electricity distribution system, its enhancement and automation project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli in Kathmandu on Monday. A 250 kilometers long optical fiber will be laid underground and 250-km 11,000 voltage underground line and 400-km 400 voltage underground line will be constructed in Baluwatar, Panipokhari, Budhanilkantha, Tokha, Gongabu, Samakhusi, Maharajgunj, Dhapasi, Basundhara, Shivapuri, Chunikhel, Sukedhara, Dharmasthali and Teaching Hospital that fall under the Maharjgunj distribution center.
Similarly, 200 kilometers long underground optical fiber will be laid along with the construction of 200-km 11,000 voltage underground line and about 400-km 400 voltage underground line in places including Ratnapark, Bagbazar, Putalisadak, New Road, Anamnagar, Jamal, Lainchaur, Thamel, Sorhakhutte, Naya Bazar, Khusibu, Tripureshwor, Teku, Thapathali, Maitighar, Singhadurbar, Naxal, Lazimpat, Airport, CHabahil, Boudha, Jorpati under the Ratnapark distribution center.
The underground wiring system is considered safe, reliable and maintains beautification of the city in comparison to existing overhead distribution system. Stating that the distribution system of Kathmandu is not in a condition to hold the increasing electricity demand and the government has reached its limit to construct more overhead lines, Kulman Ghising, managing director of NEA, said that there is no alternative to this project for the transformation of the electricity distribution system. The project will deploy horizontal directional drilling technology to dig the roads in order to have minimum damage and impact on pedestrians. The damage done by the project will be recovered in 10 days.
Speaking at the inauguration program, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli said that the underground electricity and telephone wiring project will have a huge contribution in beautification of the city as it will remove all the tangled wires hanging by the overhead of roads. “The generation of electricity has doubled and Nepal will establish itself as a power supplying country in the future,” he said, “The construction of transmission line with MCC fund will help in the evacuation of electricity to other countries.”
Mentioning that the recent growth in electricity consumption, he said that the rate will be further widened in the future. He asked the contractor to complete the project within the stipulated timeframe.
According to NEA, along with laying underground distribution line, it has started programs to lay underground transmission lines. As the project will also lay optical fiber, internet, telecommunication, and cable television service providers can use it to provide service to consumers.
Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Barsaman Pun, said that 88% population has access to electricity and the government has plans of expanding it further. “Now Nepal will focus on modernization of electricity supply and will also develop a strong presence in the regional power market,” he said.
The project is being carried out with an estimated investment of Rs 7 billion. KEI Industries Limited, an Indian company, was awarded the contract in March, 2019 and the project completion date is October 2021.
Concessional loan from the Asian Development Bank and investment from Nepal government and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will be used for the project.
The government has called for tender for the second phase to lay underground wire in rest of the areas of Kathmandu district. Under the second phase of the project, a 400-km optical fiber will be laid underground and also construct 250-km 11,000 voltage underground line and around 240-km 400 voltage underground line.
The authority has stated that the contractor company has started installing smart meters in 100,000 households. NEA plans to replace three-phase energy meters with smart meters in a year.