The Chhukha Hydropower project is Bhutan’s oldest mega power project. Out of the country’s several major river basins, the Wangchhu, which uses the discharges of Thimphu, Paro and Haa valleys, was chosen as the project site as it offered the best scope for constructing the first power project due to the existence of road links and other infrastructures.
After conducting detailed studies, an Agreement for the implementation of the Project was signed between the two governments of Bhutan and India on March 23, 1974. The project was fully funded by GoI with 60 percent grant and 40 percent loan at the interest rate of 5 percent payable over a period of 15 years after commissioning. The Chhukha Hydel Project Authority (CHPA), which was formed in 1975, was entrusted with the responsibility of constructing and commissioning of the project.
Since no project of such a magnitude was constructed earlier, the period from 1974 to 1978 was mainly spent on infrastructure development, like access to roads, schools, hospitals and residential colonies. The main civil and electro-mechanical works of the project started in 1979. The project’s first 84 MW hydro-turbine Unit was commissioned on September 7, 1986 and by August 22, 1988 all the other three Units were commissioned.
On completion, it was inaugurated by the then President of India His Excellency R. Venkataraman, in the presence of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck on October 21, 1988. The project completion cost estimates at Nu. 2,465 million and generates over 1,800 MU annually. Most of the generated energy is exported to India.
The erstwhile Chhukha Hydro Power Corporation Limited (CHPCL) was formed on July 1, 1991 under the 1989 Company’s Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan to operate and maintain the hydroelectric power plant and the transmission system and to export surplus power to India after meeting domestic requirement.
With the formation of the Druk Green, CHPCL became an operational unit under Druk Green and was renamed as Chhukha Hydropower Plant.