The National Council questioned the MoEA Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma on delays to the 600 MW Kholongchu project as decisions are getting delayed at due to major differences of views and opinions between the Shareholders (DGPC and SJVNL) and a hung Board with 50:50 membership with a Chairman who has neither the voting right nor a casting vote.
It says a SJVNL dominated management does not seem to have helped. The NC said in view of the delays in decision making and the completion of the project nowhere in sight, the expectations of the people and the nation have not been met.
In this regard the National Council asked the Minister of Economic affairs if the government is concerned about the lack of progress of this project and what percentage of the work is completed so far, plans and strategies to resolve the existing problems to ensure that the construction is expedited and how the ongoing hydropower project going to affect the electric bill for common people.
Lyonpo answered that clarifications with HRD has been made and that the project has been preparing both manpower and equipment to resume the work, but progress can only be made once the contract regarding the powerhouse and dam has been signed and the terms have been negotiated with the Indian Government.
The KHEL project was supposed to have been completed in 2020 but now the project has been on the standstill.
Lyonpo expressed his concern on the project by saying that although he is chairman of IG model and not the chairperson of the joint venture, but still he is worried about the project.
Lyonpo said that although the construction of houses and roads have used up around 8 percent of the project budget they will still benefit the project. The main problem was being unable to sign the concessional agreement for tariff determination but now after signing the agreement via video conference on 29th June 2020, the government is hopeful that KHEL will be able to resume and complete the project.
Still the existing problem regarding terms for dam and powerhouse remains yet to be resolved with the Indian government, but once it has been properly and clearly addressed, people can expect to see the progress in the project.
Lastly, no matter how much debt is incurred by the hydro project, the Minister assured that there will not be increase in the electric bill for common people (domestic households) as well as small, medium or large industries. “If we increase the electric bill, it will affect the larger industries drastically and there will not be competitive advantage for them. What the government will at least do is ensure that the internal electric bill or cost does not increase,” Lyonpo said.