Reservoir filling ceremony marks milestone in PHPA-II project

Kuensel | Chencho Dema | February 24, 2024

Wangdue—In honour of the brave individuals who sacrificed their lives during the construction of the Punatsangchhu-II Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA-II), Rajesh Kumar Chandel, the managing director, opened his remarks at the reservoir filling ceremony on February 21, coinciding with the King’s birth anniversary.

The successful completion of the reservoir filling for the 1,020 MW Punatsangchhu-II Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA-II) marks a significant milestone, bringing the project closer to its commissioning phase. 

Over five months, the Punatshangchu will gradually fill the reservoir, symbolising the project’s advancement toward completion.

Once the dam is fully impounded, it will store approximately 7 million cubic metres of water for power generation, a noteworthy achievement for the nation.

Rajesh Kumar Chandel expressed gratitude, stating, “We have come this far due to the dedication of numerous unsung heroes who have labored tirelessly over the past decade. Many lives have been lost, and countless workers have been injured or disabled during the construction. Today, we honor their contributions to this monumental project.”

Despite the project’s initial commissioning target of 2017, unforeseen geological challenges, flash floods, and the Covid-19 pandemic led to schedule delays and cost overruns, including the discovery of a major shear zone at the dam foundation.

Chandel highlighted the collapse of the downstream surge gallery (DSG) as a significant challenge that once threatened the project’s feasibility.

However, with appropriate engineering solutions, the project has persevered toward completion.

Various dignitaries including Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Gyem Tshering, Minister of Health Tandin Wangchuk, Members of Parliament, and Ambassador of India to Bhutan Sudhakar Dalela attended the event.

The PHPA-II is a joint project between the governments of Bhutan and India. The foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister of Bhutan and the External Affairs Minister of India in 2010.

Ambassador Sudhakar Dalela expressed confidence in meeting project timelines and emphasised the longstanding cooperation between Bhutan and India in the hydropower sector, which has significantly contributed to Bhutan’s economic growth.

As of January 31, the project has achieved an overall physical progress of 96.83 percent, with major components nearing completion.

The project aims to commission all six generating units by the end of 2024, with a focus on completing major civil works by June 2024.

Chandel expressed confidence in surpassing the scheduled commissioning dates for the first two units, emphasising the team’s dedication to the mission.

He affirmed: “I assure everyone present that the project will be ready to serve the nation in a matter of months. Our team is united in this mission.”

The project has incurred expenses of Nu 83 billion (B) to date.