Kathmandu, November 19 - The headrace tunnel of the Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project, a National Pride Project, was completed today after almost five years since the construction started in August, 2012.Headrace tunnel construction is a major segment of a hydropower project, as it connects the reservoir to the power station.

Energy Secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyay was present on the occasion to encourage the project team to complete the project within the stipulated time frame.

Along with the tunnel breakthrough, 92 per cent of the project has been completed and UTHEP is expected to start commissioning power after 10 months, according to Bigyan Shrestha, project chief of UTHEP.

“The completion of headrace tunnel is a major achievement for any hydroelectric project and we’ll be able to commission power after 10 months,” he said. The civil contract of the project is with Chinese contractor, Sino Hydro.

When the project was initiated in 2011, it was supposed to have been completed by mid-July 2016. However, the deadline was postponed to mid-July 2018, as the construction of the project was delayed by a few months in the initial stage and later the project work was stalled for one-and-a-half years after the devastating earthquake of April 2015. Dolakha, where the project is located, was badly affected by the quake.

Though the earthquake had not damaged the tunnel, the damage caused to the access road significantly delayed the project work. The devastating earthquake followed by trade disruptions in the southern plains of the country stalled the project work for almost two years, according to Ganesh Neupane, spokesperson for the project.

The length of the tunnel of UTHEP is 8.4 km, which is the longest among all hydropower projects that have been constructed so far. The 456-megawatt UTHEP is the largest capacity hydropower project in the country being constructed through the country’s own resources. The project is being financed by Nepal Electricity Authority, which has 41 per cent stake in Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Ltd. Other shareholders include Nepal Telecom (six per cent), Citizen Investment Trust (two per cent), Rastriya Beema Sansthan (two per cent), public (15 per cent), locals of Dolakha (10 per cent), depositors of Employees Provident Fund and employees of NT, RBS, CIT and EPF (24 per cent).

According to the initial estimate, the project was expected to be completed at a total cost of Rs 35 billion but Rs 38.83 billion has already been spent. By the time the project is completed, its total cost is expected to hover around Rs 42 billion, added Neupane.

Source: The Himalayan Times

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