July 12, 2012
Reposted from the Economic Times
By Debasis Sarkar
Works for new hydropower projects of total 3500 MW capacity under Indo-Bhutan joint initiative will begin within next one year. While giving significant financial benefit to Bhutan, the projects are expected to brighten India’s power profile to a great extent.
Undoubtedly the most important one in this list of projects is Sankosh. Though downsized recently by the Empowered Joint Group (EJG) of high government officials of Bhutan and India to a 2560 MW from its earlier planned capacity of 4050MW, this is still the single largest project in Bhutan.
According to Economic Affairs Minister of Bhutan Mr. K Wangchuk, pre-construction infrastructure works including building access bridges and roads are to start in August 2012 in both sides of the border by respective Government agencies. Construction of main work including the dam and power house is likely to begin in 2013.
Though initially planned to be a joint venture with its 51% owned by Indian PSUs and rest with Bhutan’s Government owned hydropower agency Druk Green Power Corporation, the INR 110 Billion project has been remodeled to be established under a different inter Governmental model in which India will provide entire funding.
However, agreements pertaining many facets of the project including tax and duty exemptions, funding process, Indian PSUs participation etc are likely to get signed by end July.
Beside Sankosh, works for four other hydropower projects in the list – namely Kholongchhu(600MW), Chamkharchhu(770MW), Bunakha(180MW) and Wangchhu(570MW) are expected to start by this year.
Bhutan is committed to develop 10,000MW new power generation capacity dedicated for India by 2020. And, “India is also keen on utilizing Bhutan’s untapped hydropower potential,” said India’s Union power Minister Mr. S K Shinde told ET earlier.
By so far harnessing only 5% of its viable hydropower potential, Bhutan earns Nu 10 billion (Eqv. to INR 10 Billion) per annum, that is 20% of its GDP, with it. These new projects will further brighten the picture. On the other side, this will significantly help Indian power sector that is facing annual shortage of around 73,000 million units.
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