PHPA-II reservoir filling commences

Marking a significant milestone, the reservoir filling of the PHPA-II Hydroelectric project began today coinciding with the auspicious occasion of His Majesty The King’s birthday. Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources and Ambassador of India to Bhutan attended the event.

The PHPA-II hydroelectric project faced numerous challenges throughout its construction. The discovery of a major shear zone at the dam foundation, the collapse of the downstream surge gallery, an unprecedented flash flood at the Phelraychhu, and the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic led to delays and cost overruns.

According to the project management, despite the challenges, the project has achieved an overall physical progress of over 96 per cent. Construction of the dam, headrace tunnel, and transmission lines have been completed. Civil works in the powerhouse is 93 per cent complete. The project aims to commission all six generating units by the end of the year.

According to the project management, the reservoir filling will take around five months. Once fully impounded, the dam will store approximately seven million cubic metres of water for power generation.

A news release from the project management states that the reservoir filling ceremony is a significant achievement for Bhutan and a testament to the excellent bilateral relationship between the government of Bhutan and the government of India.

“Punatshangchhu-II once completed will generate more than 4,000 million units of electricity annually adding significantly to Bhutan’s power generation capacity. It is also interesting to note that the project will reduce about 3.9 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Bhutan and India having joined longstanding mutually beneficial cooperation in the hydropower sector, the hydropower sector has been contributing in a significant manner to Bhutan’s economic growth and development,” said Sudhakar Dalela, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan.

“We must complete Puna-II on 15th August and complete all the units by December. And then in quick order, we need to start building the dam in Puna I and completing the project according to the revised schedule. This is important because the government of India and the Royal Government of Bhutan have much more to do in the area of hydropower cooperation. We have many more projects to start and complete,” said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

The 1,020 MegaWatt Punatsangchhu-II Project is being implemented jointly by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of India.

Once commissioned, the Project will generate more than four billion units of electricity annually, and increase power generation capacity by 43 per cent over the present capacity.

Changa Dorji, Wangdue Phodrang

Edited by Phub Gyem

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