During the Sixth Sitting of the Seventh Session of the Parliament, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Khengkhar-Weringla constituency, Rinzin Jamtsho, asked the Minister of Economic Affairs for an update on plans of commissioning any of the hydropower projects, like Dorji Lung, Kuri Gongri, Kholongcu, Gongrichu, Gamrichuu and Nyera Ama Chu project in East, Chamkhar Chu project in the central, Wang Chu project in the West and Sunkosh and Amochu project in the South, as reprioritization during the current government’s tenure.
To which the Economic Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma replied, “We have initiated the Mangdechhu, Punatsangchhu 1 and Punatsangchu 2 hydropower projects and from there, incurred considerable debts, which also must be taken into consideration. Will Punatsangchu 1 and 2 be beneficial to the economy? Punatsangchu 2 is nearing completion but still there are doubts about the tariff. Will the old modules work in current scenario? There are many alternative sources of energy, like solar, hydrogen etc. Will rushing hydropower be beneficial for the country?In the past, there were plans to build 10,000 megawatt hydropower projects but it couldn’t come to fruition, the only project completed is Mangdechu. So, we must consider and tread carefully when we are talking about the hydropower projects.”
Lyonpo said one of the reasons for delaying the projects is detailed project report(DPR); the reports and projections become outdated and the capital budget become double or triple as the time passes.
“There are other factors too like the geological surprises. So what we are currently focusing on right now is the Dorjilung project; with the help of the World Bank, the DPR for the Dorjilung is being updated, likewise the Nyera-amo chhu project looks promising so we are in the process of finding a budget for it. This translates to a total expected budget of Nu 90 billion for these two projects. So we are in talks with the World Bank, ADB, DHI, etc. The DPR for Kuri Gongri also needs to be updated due to the fact that storage needs to be expanded similar to Sunkosh.”
“The Sunkosh power is on halt because the estimated budget needed is about Nu 200 billion. We are of the opinion that we must utilize experts from our own country and build the projects on competent and professional basis. So we mustn’t rush these projects, rather also take the current situation into consideration,” said Lyonpo.