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Final test of state-owned Kulekhani 3 delayed

   September 8, 2019        538        Pratap Bista

kathmandu- The final trial run of Kulekhani 3 plant in Makawanpur has been pushed back amid delays in the arrival of a team of Chinese technicians associated with the hydro and electro-mechanical contractor, Jheijian Jialin Company.

“The technicians hired by the Chinese contractor have not arrived yet despite multiple summons by the Nepal Electricity Authority,” said Subash Mishra, project chief. “The plant will begin churning out electricity once Chinese technicians run final tests.”

Works related to civil structures, installation of pylons and cables concluded a week ago. The state-owned project has been running tests on civil structures and other electro-mechanical equipment for the past three months.

Launched in April 2008, the scheme was initially scheduled to be finished by 2012, but the officials could only initiate civil component tests in July 2019.

The project has faced multiple setbacks and has missed the deadline for the seventh time owing to dilly-dallying by the Chinese developer and Nepali subcontractor, Hulas.

Despite multiple rounds of inspection and direction by officials of the electricity authority, the contractor failed to expedite works.

The project which entered construction a decade ago was expected to witness trail run in December 2018. Delays by the contractors hindered commissioning of the plant even nine months after the passing of the sixth deadline.

The Chinese company hired for electro-mechanical works had pledged to complete the task within 44 months but has failed to deliver on its promises even after 100 months since its hiring.

In May 2014, the National Planning Commission declared Kulekhani 3 a troubled project after the project’s cost per megawatt was projected to balloon to Rs310 million from Rs173.6 million. The project, which was estimated to cost Rs2.43 billion when it was launched 11 years ago, is now expected to cost Rs4.63 billion.

Officials point at delays by contractors, electricity authority and local obstruction for the massive cost overrun.

With this, the plant has become one of the most expensive plants in terms of cost per megawatt as the project with an installed capacity of only 14 megawatts has cost the state Rs 4.63 billion.

According to the electricity authority, a half-kilometre-long transmission line will be extended from the powerhouse to connect it with the national grid. After Kulekhani-3 goes online, 128 MW will be produced from Makwanpur district alone with the three Kulekhani projects generating 106 MW and Bagmati hydroelectric project evacuating 22 MW.

The developers will convey water to the plant from a 4-kilometre long tunnel extending from 60-megawatt Kulekhani 1 and 32-megawatt Kulekhani 2.

The Kathamandu Post