Bhutan could lose billions in revenue due to the geological blow for ‘setbacks are definite’
The precise time period of the delay and additional costs caused by the sinking of the right slope situated above the Punatsangchu Hydroelectric Project (PHPA) –I dam site will be known after September 19 when a technical team from the Central Water Commission and Geological Survey of India give their reports, economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk said during the first ‘meet the press’ session of the new government.
“A committee has been instituted and will visit New Delhi on September 9. They would be closely studying the information that would be gathered and will be back in the country by September 19, making their final assessment,” Lyonpo said.
The slope has sunk by as much as five meters on July 9, leading to stoppage of the dam excavation works. The slope sinking is significant given the large area that it covers, and also because the right side of the dam would be resting on that particular slope.
Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk also said there had been a constant stream of water seeping
into the area from the hill top where paddy cultivations are taking place. Preliminary assessment attributed the sinking hill to the execution of some 70m deep excavation works. Excavation works are being halted for now.
PHPA’s managing director R.N Khazanchi earlier confirmed to The Bhutanese that the November 2016 completion date of Punatsangchu I would no longer be feasible resulting in the raise of additional costs to the Nu 94 bn revised estimate.
Besides cost escalation and time delay, the project will lose one more season. “If the dam construction is planned to avoid the monsoon, we will have to do so in the next season as well,” Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said.
He added “Setbacks can happen in two fronts, in terms of the time that could be delayed, and secondly additional measures needs to be put in place to stabilize the geological movement that will add to costs.”
The developments, especially on the time escalation, will severely impact Bhutan’s 11th plan revenue projections. Both the 11th plan and current expenditure in the next five years is expected to be tighter.