PHPA-1 focuses on stabilization measures while being short on labour

As per the Managing Director of the Punatsangchu-1 Hydroelectric Project Authority, N.C Bansal, all the stabilization works as advised by Design Consultants in the past had been completed both on the right bank and left bank.

However, based on the data received from the Monitoring System in place, some additional stabilization measures have been recommended by the Design Consultants on the right bank before taking up the leftover excavation on the right bank and the concreting works of the Dam.

The MD said that the the same design consultants in the past had appraised the works as complete, but with monitoring systems showing displacement in the right bank in the recent months the same consultants advised for additional measures.

The MD added that for these additional stabilization works, tenders have been invited by PHPA-1 and the works shall be carried out, if it is decided to continue the construction of dam at the existing location for which the RGoB through DGPC has appointed International Consultants to advise in this regard.

Thus far, similar to PHPA-2, PHPA-1 has its own shortfalls in recruitment areas. Around 155 Bhutanese nationals are currently working with various contractors of PHPA-1.

Though the project had turned to Bhutanese workforce in order to meet the shortage of workforce, the MD said that the project has not been able to overcome the required shortages despite their best efforts due to challenges and requirements. These have to do with working in underground caverns of the Power House Complex and at height in case of intake structure of the Power intake tunnels of the Damn and Downstream surge gallery and surge shaft of the Power House Complex.

The project had floated vacancies towards the Build Bhutan Project, announcements through media outlets and by direct recruitment mechanism by Contractors.

 The MD stated that the current dynamics of the country fighting against COVID-19 has increased the challenges to fill up the requirement of the expatriates in the Project.

He added, “However, all out efforts are being made in this direction, to the extent possible under the current situation, with concerted efforts of all concerned and by getting the required support from Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), the National COVID-19 TF and Ministry of Labor and Human Resources (MoLHR) and others.”

 He said that in order to implement the various guidelines on account of COVID-19 Pandemic, some additional efforts and coordination are required in importing the required materials.

He added that with the support being received from all the concerned agencies, the project has so far been able to import the required materials by putting additional efforts.

 As of date most of components of the Dam such as Coffer Dams, Diversion Tunnels, Desilting Chambers, Silt Flushing Tunnels and major excavation of Dam have been completed, while  98% concreting of the Power Intake Structure has also been completed.

Reportedly, the overall physical progress of the Dam package is 69.87% and the balance works left are small excavation on the right bank followed by concreting of the dam, Hydro-mechanical works of the dam and the Intake structures.

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