Nikachhu Hydroelectric Project 98% complete

The 118MW run-of-the-river project is financed on a 50:50 debt equity ratio with the Asian Development Bank

The commissioning of Nikachhu Hydropower Project (118MW) in Trongsa is scheduled to begin by January 2024, if everything goes as planned as 98% of all major works are completed.

According to the Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) all the major works required for electricity generation have been completed as of October. Wet testing procedures to test the water turbines are completed, while construction works on the dam, headrace tunnel and powerhouse has also been completed.

The dam, on the Nikachhu River, began operating in November this year and the project team is set to initiate charging of the water conductor system in the tunnel. The water is anticipated to reach the turbines inside the powerhouse for wet commissioning on or before December 17.

Works on the project began way back in 2016 and was initially proposed to be completed by 2019. However, geological and other coordinates hampered the smooth transitioning of the works.

The 118MW project was estimated to cost nearly Nu 12 billion (USD 143.9 million). It is being financed using loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and commercial banks in India approximately over USD 48 million and USD 36 million.

Meanwhile, Tangsibji Hydro Energy Limited (THyE) is a 100% subsidiary company of DGPC which was incorporated on April 25, 2014 as a special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the implementation of the 118MW Nikachhu Hydropower Project.

Nikachhu Hydropower Project is a run-of-the-river scheme project located in Tangsibji Gewog,Trongsa. The Dam site is located in Lorim which is 6km downstream of the Chendibji chorten. The project will generate mean annual generation of 491.52 GWh from Nikachhu Power House and 323.77 GWh additional generation by Mangdechhu Power House on account of Nikachhu water.

The Contract Agreement of Main Contract Package, MP-1 (Civil & Hydro-Mechanical Works) was signed between M/s Hindustan Construction Company Limited, India and THyE on April 20, 2016 for contract amount of INR 4.288 billion and Euro 3.827 million. Similarly, the Contract Agreement for Main Contract Package, MP-2 (Electro-Mechanical Works) was signed between M/s Voith Hydro Private Limited, India and THyE on December 30, 2015 for contract amount of USD 23.773 million.

Lease agreement was signed with the then Ministry of Economic Affairs (presently Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources) on May 1, 2015. A total of 195.262 acres of Government Reserve Forest Land were taken on lease for development of internal access roads, muck disposal area, colonies and contractor construction facility. To minimize the number of affected household, efforts were undertaken during the design stage by relocating the power house to existing location at Norbuodi from Tangsibji village. Other additional CSR activities are also carried out by THyE besides implementing CDP in the Resettlement Plan.

The Environment & Social Impact Assessments Studies, Environment Management Plan and Resettlement Plan of Nikachhu Project were carried out by M/s Bhutan Consultant and Research (BHUCORE). M/s Price Water Coppers (PWC) recruited by ADB was in-charge of an overall role for the Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). As per the ADB Safeguard Policy Statement 2009, the project is classified as Class “A” in terms of the Environment aspect and Class “B” in terms of the Social aspect. All measures set forth in EIA, EMP and RP is being implemented by THyE. The environmental clearance was accorded by National Environment Commission (NEC) on July 1, 2014 and renewed on August 12, 2016.

Under completion, Nikachhu HEP is expected to generate 491 million units of electricity annually.

Tashi Namgyal from Thimphu