Committee experts indecisive on barrage option for PHPA I

Kuensel | Dechen Dolkar | July 6, 2023

The Inter-Government Group (IGG) committee has still not decided on whether to construct a barrage and dam for the 1,200MW Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project (PI) in the last six months since it was formed in January.

The eight-member committee of four experts each from Bhutan and India reviewed the proposal to build a barrage to replace the dam at PI for six months.

The issue was deliberated in the Parliament yesterday. During the presentation of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) review Report on Annual Audit Report (AAR) 2021-22, yesterday.

The PAC Chairperson, Bardo-Trong MP Gyambo Tshering, said that the IGG committee conducted numerous meetings and consulted with the experts and visited both dam and barrage sites.

“The final meeting of the IGG was scheduled on June 8-9, 2023 and the IGG’s report was expected by June end after which a clear decision for barrage or dam or a way forward for PHPA-1 was expected,” the Chairperson said.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Loknath Sharma, said that the last meeting of the IGG was done last month and no more meetings of the IGG are expected further.

“However, they could not decide and come to an agreement.”

Lyonpo said that the committee meetings were held in Delhi and Bhutan as well and they have visited the PI sites.

According to the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the committee, they were supposed to submit their report to the two governments after their meetings. It was learnt that the IGG is yet to finalise its report.

As per the TOR of the IGG, a presentation of the IGG’s progress and findings are to be made to the two governments before finalising the report.

It was learnt that as soon as a date is set, the IGG will make a presentation of its findings to the two governments. The final report will be submitted only after presenting the findings to the two governments in keeping with the IGG’s TOR.

According to sources, once the findings of the IGG are presented to the two governments, a way forward should emerge for the Punatsangchhu-I project.

“From our side, Committee for Coordinating Secretaries (C4CS) will present a report to the government of India and from their side they will appoint one secretary to present the report,” Lyonpo said, adding that then it will be decided through the diplomatic channel on the way forward.

Lyonpo said that Nu 25 billion was spent on the construction of the dam and the project has spent Nu 85 billion so far.

Lyonpo also said that every day, IDC stands at Nu 13 million, the interest rate at 10 percent and the interest rate stands at Nu 45 billion so far.

“It will cost around Nu 17 billion for barrage and complete within 3 to 4 years,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that the report would be presented to the government within July and it would take another two months to decide on a way forward.

Paro Member of Parliament Ugyen Tshering said that Pl is incurring loss to the nation in two ways, one in revenue loss and increasing interest during construction (IDC).

MP said that it was supposed to decide on which option is feasible in June this year.

The Joint Sitting endorsed all resolutions of the 7th Session, yesterday.