A positive step in the hydro power construction sector
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.