4-10 December 2015 #785

Delayed by blockade

Hydropower projects already delayed by the earthquake will have to put off their completion dates due to the blockade
Lokmani Rai

When Prime Minister KP Oli promised to end load-shedding within a year in his first address to the nation last week, he was subjected to a lot of ridicule.

However, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Managing Director Mukesh Raj Kafle says if the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line is completed in time ending load-shedding won’t remain a distant dream.

The construction of the 400 KV cross-border transmission line is expected to be completed by mid-2016. Through the line the NEA can import additional 90MW electricity from India. But that will reduce load-shedding by only two hours.

Nevertheless, if other small and medium-scale hydropower projects are completed this year, load-shedding can be reduced by five hours. The NEA and independent power producers are likely to complete nine hydropower projects by July next year, adding 160 MW more electricity to the national grid.

But independent power producers say they can meet their targets only if they get sufficient diesel to transport construction materials and operate heavy equipment. They say the government must prioritise hydropower projects on the basis of their progress reports and set aside a diesel quota for the projects nearing completion.

The 7 MW Mai Cascade hydropower project, being developed by Sanima Hydropower is almost complete. “We need just 10,000 litres of diesel before we start our test production,” says Sanima’s Subarna Das Shrestha who is also former President of Independent Power Producers Association Nepal (IPPAN).

He says hydropower projects that can be completed within this year must be given sufficient diesel if the government is serious about its plan to reduce dependence on petroleum and encourage the use of electric stoves and electric public transport.

Despite India’s blockade and the Madhes movement, a total of 1,513 tankers carrying diesel entered into Nepal from mid-September to mid-November, and this represented only 15 per cent of the total national demand. Power producers say this is all the more reason that the limited diesel available should be used to expedite hydropower projects.

IPPAN President Khadga Bahadur Bista says: “Some hydropower projects, already delayed by the April-May earthquakes, will have to put off their completion dates due to the shortage of diesel.”

The 456 MW Upper Tamakosi, one of Nepal’s largest hydropower projects, was badly hit by the earthquakes. The tremors caused the Tamakosi dam to subside 7cm, delaying test production deadline. The project Chief Bigyan Shrestha says: “We were all set to resume construction work by October, but diesel crisis is now causing further delay.”

Tama Kosi requires 50,000 litres of diesel every month for construction, and a prolonged blockade will inevitably delay its completion.

Read also:

Delayed by blockade, Lokmani Rai

Back to the dark age, Om Astha Rai

Back after 10 years, Seulki Lee

Electrified transportation, Sahina Shrestha

Boomtime in Lamjung, Seulki Lee

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