A pos­i­tive step in the hy­dro power con­struc­tion sec­tor

Bhutan Times - - EDITORIAL -

Hy­dropower plays an im­por­tant role in the de­vel­op­ment of Bhutanese econ­omy and Bhutan with its snow and glacial fed rivers has a large hy­dro power po­ten­tial. It is es­ti­mate that about 30,000 MW of power can be gen­er­ated from the rivers in Bhutan. Out of which 24,000 MW is be­ing tech­ni­cally fea­si­ble for pro­duc­tion.

It has been given to understand that about 1,480 MW is be­ing gen­er­ated from Bhutan now which con­sti­tutes only 6% of the whole pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity. As there is no dearth for the mar­ket on hy­dropower and the re­quire­ment for the in­crease in the pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of power has al­ways been felt by the Bhutanese plan­ners.

It has been es­ti­mate that about 75% of the power gen­er­ated is ex­ported to In­dia and hy­dropower con­sti­tutes about 25% of the GDP. It has been a source of for­eign ex­change used mostly in pur­chase of fos­sil fu­els.

The task un­der­taken by the gov­ern­ment to use the elec­tric pow­ered cars has been ap­pre­ci­ated in or­der to con­serve the en­vi­ron­ment and save the pre­cious for­eign ex­change re­serves. It is dis­heart­en­ing to know that such serous ef­forts by the gov­ern­ment are re­ceived with luke­warm sup­port.

How­ever the story for the hy­dropower is not smooth all the times and the re­cent in­ci­dent of hy­dropower mishaps re­minds us of the peril in­volved in the con­struc­tion of such projects. It is not al­ways the hu­man er­ror that causes such in­ci­dents but the frag­ile ge­o­graph­i­cal ter­rain makes life more dan­ger­ous for the work­ers and even threat­ens their live­hood.

More over with the com­ple­tion of about four hy­dropower projects, Bhutan should have a fair knowl­edge of the tech­ni­cal­i­ties in­volved in cost es­ca­la­tion of the project and even on the prepa­ra­tion of the de­tailed project re­port (DPR). De­tailed fea­si­bil­ity study must be car­ried out to pre­vent ge­o­log­i­cal sur­prises by giv­ing more re­sources and time.

The na­tional coun­cil has cat­e­gor­i­cally men­tioned that Bhutan uses only about 0.42 per­cent of the projects cost against the 2 per­cent av­er­age on the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. This on the long run proves more ex­pen­sive due to cost es­ca­la­tions and de­lay in the com­ple­tion of the project.

Fur­ther in or­der build the ca­pac­ity of the lo­cal con­sul­tants and com­pa­nies enough pri­or­ity may be given to them in the process of car­ry­ing out the fea­si­bil­ity study and prepa­ra­tion of DPR’s. The re­cent procla­ma­tion of the Con­struc­tion De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited to ven­ture into the hy­dropower sec­tor should be taken on a pos­i­tive note. Like­wise the other pri­vate com­pa­nies can fol­low the suit and build their own ca­pac­ity. This may be taken as pos­i­tive step ahead and will definitely go a long way in build­ing our own task­force in hy­dropower sec­tor.

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