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Tunnel road completed at Upper Tamakoshi project

The tunnel at Kavrebhir was finished on Wednesday after five months of effort

Kathmandu, December 2, 2016: The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project in Dolakha has reached a milestone with the completion of a 340-metre tunnel road providing access to the main construction site. The tunnel at Kavrebhir was finished on Wednesday after five months of effort.

Work at the 456 MW hydro project had been hit after the access road leading to the construction site was destroyed by last year’s earthquake. The developer had initially tried to reconstruct the road, but later it decided to dig a tunnel instead due to the fragile geology of the area.

“We have overcome a major hurdle affecting the construction of the project,” said Bigyan Raj Shrestha, project chief of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project. “Lack of an access road had been preventing major construction works from being done. The construction work will now gain momentum,” Shrestha added.

With the completion of the tunnel, more than 82 percent of the work has been completed, and the project is on track to go online by July 2018 as projected by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), a key promoter of the project.

The next major task at the project is digging another tunnel for the waterway. “We are about to enter another critical phase of the project development as we have to build a 1,500-metre tunnel for the waterway,” said Shrestha.

He expressed confidence that the July 2018 deadline set by the NEA would be met. According to NEA officials, the projection is very realistic as everything is going on smoothly.

The national pride project was originally scheduled to be completed by mid-July 2016, but the earthquake, Indian blockade and varied technical and social issues pushed back the completion date.
Dolakha, where the project in located, is one of the hardest hit districts by the earthquake.

After multiple amendments, the total project cost has now been estimated at Rs35.29 billion. Around Rs30 billion has been spent so far.

However, cost overruns are expected as per the project’s progress report issued in mid-June 2016. The report has cited the earthquake and blockade for the time and cost overruns. According to the NEA, frequent floods during the monsoon also held up work at the project.

The project has divided the development works into four categories—civil, hydro mechanical, mechanical electrical, transmission line and supervision.

The construction of four out of the planned six units at the powerhouse is underway. Likewise, a 47-km-long 220 kVA transmission line is being built which is expected to be completed soon.

By Bibek Subedi