The Kurichhu Hydropower Plant is located at Gyalpozhing, Mongar, on the Kurichhu River in Eastern Bhutan. It is a run-of-river scheme, with a dam of height 55 m (from its deepest foundation), crest length of 285 m and a surface power house located at the toe of the dam. The Project has an installed capacity of 60 MW consisting of four units of 15 MW each and a mean annual energy generation capacity of 400 million units (MU). The Kaplan turbine operates with a net head of 32 m and discharge of 53 m3/sec per unit. A unique feature of the project is the fish ladder for migration of fish.
The Kurichhu Project Authority was established to control and monitor the construction work, and to arrange funds for the construction. The Authority entered into an agreement with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited, (NHPC) a Government of India agency, for the turnkey execution of the project. The Authority appointed Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) as review Consultants. The construction activities started in 1995 with the diversion tunnel works.
NHPC separately entered into a contract agreements with M/s. Asian Techs Ltd. for the construction of the diversion tunnel, with M/s. Hindustan Construction Company for the construction of dam, with M/s. Gammon India Limited for the construction of power house, with M/s. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited for the supply and erection of electro-mechanical equipment, and with M/s. Om Metals and Minerals Limited for the supply and erection of hydro-mechanical equipment, and with M/s. Prem Power Construction Limited for the construction of 132 kV transmission lines. A host of other smaller Indian and Bhutanese firms also participated in the construction of the Project.
The first 15 MW machine was spun on April 13, 2001. This first unit was synchronized to the Indian North Eastern grid on August 13, 2001, followed by the second unit on August 15, 2001, and the third unit on September 27, 2001. Commercial operation started from November 1, 2001. The fourth unit was commissioned on May 31, 2002.
The Kurichhu Hydropower Plant was formally inaugurated by HRH Trongsa Poenlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and H.E Shri Sudhir Vyas, Ambassador of India to Bhutan, on April 26, 2006.