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India PM unveils foundation stone of Kholongchhu project
Rabi C Dahal, June 16, 2014
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June 16, Thimphu: Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today unveiled the foundation stone of Kholongchhu project, signifying the start of construction of the first Joint Venture hydroelectric project.

After he addressed the National Assembly, Prime Minister Modi, in the presence of Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay unveiled the foundation stone of Kholongchhu project, signifying the start of construction of the first Joint Venture hydroelectric project. The cooperation between Bhutan and India in the field of hydro electric power has gained international repute as an example of outstanding bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit.

This is one of the many events the Indian PM graded during his two day visit to Bhutan that ended today.

The Kholongchhu HE Project is a run of the river scheme located at the lower course of Kholongchhu river in Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag in Eastern Bhutan. It is expected to bring about major economic opportunities in Eastern Bhutan during the construction phase. The project envisages construction of a 95m high concrete gravity dam across Kholongchhu about 17 km upstream (u/s) of the confluence with Gongrichhu river and will utilize a net head of about 761.53m. The river will be diverted through a 15.77km long head race tunnel (HRT) to the underground powerhouse inside the ridge on the right bank of Gongrichhu located at 4.5km downstream (d/s) of the confluence. The water will be released back to the Gongrichhu river through a 1.52km long tail race tunnel (TRT). The project has been designed with an installed capacity of 600MW (four Generating Units of 150MW capacity each) which will generate about 2,568.88MU of electricity in a 90% dependable year. The power evacuation arrangement will comprise of 400kV transmission lines and will be connected to the Jigmeling Pooling Station located near the Indo-Bhutan border in south-central Bhutan from which power will be evacuated to India. The project is to be completed within a period of 77 months which includes 18 months of pre-construction time and it is estimated to cost about Nu. 31,436.39 million at March 2011 Price Level. The cost does not include the interest during construction (IDC) and financing charges (FC).

In 2008, the RGOB adopted the 10000 MW hydropower development target by 2020 and the GOI had committed full assistance to realize this target. Based on this, the two governments had signed a Protocol in 16th March, 2009 to decide on the framework of cooperation to take forward and realize this initiative, and agreed to develop ten hydropower projects to achieve 10,000MW capacity addition by 2020. Out of the ten projects, six were decided to be developed through the Inter-Governmental (IG) mode and the rest four through the Joint Venture (JV) mode. The projects to be implemented under the JV mode are 600MW Kholongchhu, 180MW Bunakha, 570MW Wangchhu and 770MW Chamkharchhu-I leading to combined capacity of 2,120 MW. The JV partners from the GoI’s side are SJVNL for Kholongchhu and Wangchhu, THDC for Bunakha and, NHPC for Chamkharchhu-I. The JV partner from RGoB’s side is Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) for all the four projects. The debt : equity of the four JV projects is 70:30 with the JV partners having equal share. The equity of the RGoB will be provided as grant by the GoI. The two governments had also finalized the framework of IG Agreement for JV projects which define the common precepts and provisions which will govern the implementation of JV projects. The same Agreement was signed on April 22, 2014 in Thimphu between the two Governments. The two JV partners have already signed an MoU for initiating the formation of JV Company and other preparatory works. Kholongchhu project is the first JV project to be implemented as both the governments have accorded clearance. It is expected that GOI will clear the balance three projects soon for implementation.

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