DOLAKHA, Nov 20: Sunday's breakthrough in digging the 8.4 km long tunnel of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project has almost ensured that the project will begin producing electricity by this time next year.
"We have set the target of completing the much-awaited project of 456 MW, the would-be biggest power plant in the county, by this time within 2018 if everything goes as planned," said Bigyan Shrestha, manager of the project.
On Sunday, officials and workers of the contractor as well as government officials from the Ministry of Energy celebrated the breakthrough of the main tunnel through which water will pass to the power plant. The digging of the tunnel which started from both ends of Lamabagar and Gongar some seven years ago completed on Sunday, marking the achievement of one of the key stages in project development, officials said. The dream project will be crucial to addressing the power crisis the country has witnessed for over a decade.
“Meeting the tunnel digging target is itself a big achievement and a major breakthrough and work progress of the project is 92 percent,” Shrestha said. Energy Secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyay and Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority Kulman Ghising had reached the project site to celebrate the achievement.
"The remaining tunnel works include concrete lining of a 900-meter stretch of the waterway tunnel and fitting steel pipes in a stretch of 800 meters and other minor concrete works where there are hard rocks," said Shrestha.
The other major works the project has to complete are installation of the equipment and completing the transmission line.
The project has a total of 18.5 km long tunnels-- 11.5 km waterway tunnel and other additional tunnels and officials say they are yet to dig a total of 920 meters long tunnels in the project.
It was deemed impossible to finance the project requiring Rs 35 billion in 2010 through domestic resources but co-financing by the Employee Provident Fund, Nepal Telecom, Citizens' Investment Trust, and Rastriya Beema Sansthan made the project viable. Started in 2010, the project is regarded as one of the projects implemented in time despite some delays due to the earthquake of 2015 and the blockade thereafter.