Confirming earlier news reports of The Bhutanese the Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that 10,000 MW by 2020 cannot be achieved.
Lyonpo said that in 2006 a target of 5,000 MW was set up between the governments of India and Bhutan. In 2008 during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the target was enhanced to 10,000 MW by 2020. He said, “We had been working with that target but I is not achievable as presently the only projects under construction are 1,200 MW P I, 720 MW Mangdechu and 1020 MW P II which is total installed capacity of 2,940 MW to be completed by 2017, 2018 and 2019.”
He said the installed capacity was just 30% of the 10,000 MW target to be achieved by 2020. The minister said that Bhutan should have started a few more projects in the last four or five years as hydropower projects take seven to ten years to be completed.
“As the minister I was the chairperson of the recent Empowered Joint Group meeting (EJG) where it was reiterated that both the Royal government of Bhutan and the Indian government is committed to 10,000 MW by 2020 but since the target cannot be achieved what we have to do now is to review the entire hydropower situation and set a new deadline for ourselves,” said Lyonpo.
The minister pointed out that during the visits of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee the 10,000 MW commitment had been re-emphasized. Lyonpo said that his ministry is working on submitting a realistic deadline to the government after which it would be deliberated with the Government of India. He said there would be an intensive and review of hydropower indentifying new projects and new targets.
The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said, “Hydropower is the cornerstone of Bhutan’s relationship with India and it goes without saying that the agreement to develop 10,000 MW by 2020 is a very important agreement. He said the GoI is committed to ensuring that they fulfill their commitment and implement the agreement of developing 10,000 MW by 2020.”
Lyonchhen stressed that hydropower is the cornerstone of the economy and the agreement with GoI to develop 10,000 MW by 2020 is still valid until any portion of the agreement is amended. He said a big step forward was the signing of agreements for four joint venture projects like Chamkarchu, Bunakha, Kholongchu and Wangchu.