On 27 December, the 720 MW Mangdechu Hydroelectric Power Project was officially handed over by the Mangdechu Hydroelectric Power Project Authority (MHPA) to Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC), Bhutan. The handing over ceremony was witnessed by the Minister for Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, and the Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela.
Prime Ministers of India and Bhutan jointly inaugurated the 720 MW Mangdechu Hydroelectric Power Project in the August 2019. With the project’s commissioning, Bhutan’s electrical power generation capacity has increased by 44 percent to 2,326 MW. More than 9,500 million units of energy have been produced by the project since its commissioning.
Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, in his address during the celebration, thanked all the officials, engineers, designers, and laborers for completing the project. He also expressed his gratitude to the Indian government for supporting the project with both financial and technical help. The project, according to Ambassador Sudhakar Dalela, was a benchmark project that was finished at the best possible price and in the least amount of time. He also discussed the importance the Indian government places on moving the India-Bhutan renewable energy collaboration ahead.
The commissioning of the Mangdechu Hydropower Project resulted in a rise of 31 percent in Bhutan’s hydropower income in 2020, at a time when the COVID – 19 pandemic caused a decline in revenues of important economic sectors. Mangdechu Hydroelectric Power Project increased Bhutan’s electricity exports to INR 24.43 billion (bn) by sending electricity worth INR 12.13 bn to India.
Talking with Chencho Tshering, the JMD of the Mangdechuu project, the commissioning took two months compared to other projects in the world which takes 2-3 years. As mandated by the government for the project to be operated for two years after its commissioning, the project was sorted and handed over.
He added, “All things were sorted out and handed over. We had to ensure the whole project, see all the infrastructures, account the estimations, and make sure there was no audit issues and that all issues were settled before handing over.”
“At a budget of Nu 50.3 bn, the project was completed with the best of quality and although some issues were there with occasional repair and maintenance, which is something all projects do, Mangdechu achieved all its targets with regards to generation and was more than forecasted,” he further added.
It was pointed out that a 330 MW project, in India, costs more than INR 50 bn. Their cost per megawatt is INR 90 mn and in Bhutan, Mangdechu project costs around INR 65 mn per megawatt.
The project received the Brunel Medal in 2020 from the London-based Institute of Civil Engineers in honour of its superior civil engineering work as well as its social and environmental credentials. The project will result in a 2.4 million tons reduction per year of greenhouse gas emissions.
The project initially had a leak which was fixed. However, the main problem was with a faulty third unit supplied by BHEL which caused significant notional losses and it took a long time for the matter to be resolved. This also prevented the project from being handed over to DGPC.
With the completion of the project, four mega hydroelectric power projects have been successfully completed by both India and Bhutan.
So far, since its inception in 2019, 10,599 units of energy has been generated and earned the actual revenue of Nu 37 bn from the revenue generation of Nu 43.6 bn.