Eight-member committee reviewing PI barrage option

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A committee of eight experts from Bhutan and India will review a proposal to build a barrage to replace a dam at the 1,200MW Punatsangchu Hydroelectric Project (PI) and submit its recommendations to the governments by the end of January next year.

The committee consists of four members from both countries.

Kuensel learned that the Bhutanese authorities suggested the construction of a barrage instead of a dam as feasible. The DPR prepared by Stucky, a Swiss company at a cost of 150 million (M) found the barrage feasible at a location 2.6 km upstream from the present PI dam site.

However, Indian government officials felt that the barrage was not suitable for safety reasons and expressed their objections about the barrage proposal.

During the visit of the Indian Energy Secretary to Bhutan last month, the two secretaries decided to set up a committee with members from both sides and find a solution.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said this would be the final decision and the committee should submit a report to the government by the end of January.

The decision to construct the barrage was taken after several landslides occurred on the right bank of the dam. The project saw its first slide in July 2013, followed by one in August 2016 and the second in January 2019.

The cost of construction of the barrage is estimated between Nu 16 and Nu 18 billion.

Dispute between L&T and PI

Meanwhile, a contracting company in PI, Larson & Toubro (L&T) is negotiating a dispute regarding the claims. Presently talks are going on through mediation and the mediation asked them to settle with the Negotiating Settlement Committee.

According to the project chairman, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, L&T has made 13 claims and claims before 2015 which range from Nu 3 to Nu 4B.

“Currently, the dispute is in the Negotiatory Settlement Committee, because the attribution tribunal is very much on the sitting fee for the chairman of the tribunal,” Lyonpo said.

PI and L&T are trying to reach a settlement after the Supreme Court of India directed that the dispute between them be arbitrated in Bhutan.

Earlier, L&T had asked the PI officials to compensate them with NU 3.91B for keeping their machines and human resources idle after problems surfaced with the dam construction.

Kholongchu

Similarly, the 600MW Kholongchhu, Lyonpo said joint venture, Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and SJVNL are closing the accounts which will be completed by the end of December. After the closure of the accounts, the way forward will be decided by the DGPC.

Dasho Chewang Rinzin, Managing Director, DGPC, said that they are going to start working on how to take the project forward once they complete the transaction to take over the project.

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