Slide at P I site to lead to diversion of a stretch of East-West highway
May 11 | The Bhutanese
By Tenzing Lamsang
The troubled right bank of the 1200 MW Punatsangchu I project which was undergoing extensive strengthening saw a portion of the right bank slide down on 22 January 2019.
It now emerges that this latest slide in the right bank will affect around 100 to 200 meters of the East-West highway along this stretch as it is above the affected areas.
This means the the PHPA and the Department of Roads will have to work together to shut down this stretch that goes above the right bank and divert the entire stretch of the highway from another area.
The MoEA minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that the technical experts have advised to move the overburden over the right bank and this would affect the highway above it.
The minister said that as a temporary measure the traffic would be diverted to the road heading to the PHPA colony and then back to the main highway.
He said that in the longer run a new route must be found for the highway in this area.
Lyonpo said that though the effected stretch is impacting around 200 meters of the highway the diversion of the highway from another place could mean a new road much longer than the 200-meter stretch.
The minister said that the Chairman of the PHPA he was really worried that the slides at the right bank could get worse with the monsoon and more mud can fall. He said that he was hoping for some kind of a ‘breakthrough’ so that the dam construction is not affected and work can continue on the dam.
Lyonpo said that the technical teams are working on coming up with a solution to the slides in the right bank.
A slide on the right bank of the project was first detected in July 2013 which has lead to a considerable delay in the project as the slide area is above the dam site and the dam cannot be constructed without fixing the slides first.
The project which started in 2008 was supposed to be complete by 2016 by after several extensions the P I completion date is now around 2024.