INTERNATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE OF :UPPER KARNALI HIGH DAM PROJECT

Karnali river flows from the proposed dam site in the south-east direction for about 25 kilometers, after that the river makes a complete reversal in its direction. The river comes back to a point just two kilometers away from its earlier position

Nov. 7, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 08 No. -10 November. 7- 2014 (Kartik 21, 2071)

The 4180 MW Upper Karnali High Dam Project, like the Mount Everest or the  Buddha’s  birth place Lumbini,  has a great international significance. The 410 meters high dam of this project is going to be the world’s highest dam far exceeding the height of the Rogun dam, which is at present the highest dam in the world. The 335 meters high Rogun dam is still under construction. The 4180 MW Upper Karnali  project operating at very  high hydraulic heads  would be able to generate annually exceptionally cheap 9000 GWH  firm energy  to meet the demand for peaking.  

Very recently our government had reached  a tentative  understanding with India during the recent visit of Indian Prime-minister Mr. Narendra Modi  to implement the 900 MW Upper Karnali project  to generate annually  about 1000 GWH relative expensive firm energy.  Unfortunately,  the implementation of the 900 MW Upper Karnali project would  lead  to total  devastation of the 4180 MW Upper Karnali project.  Perhaps  our decision makers as well as the Indian government might not be fully aware that the above two projects are mutually exclusive of one another.   

It is quite probable  that once the  horrific  consequence  of the  decision to implement the 900 MW Upper Karnali project  comes to the knowledge of every one,  surprised international community might see some parallel between such decision leading to devastation of the 4180 MW Upper Karnali  project of  great international  significance  and the Taliban destroying the famous Bamiyan Buddha monument to protect Islamic faith. Government’s   reckless handling of such exceptionally  valuable water resources project  would make our country laughing-stock of the community of nations. Thus, it is hoped that the decision to implement the 900 MW Upper Karnali project would be revoked.

Discovery of a Uniquely Ideal Dam Site

The vast feasibility study of  the Karnali projects carried out under the World Bank loan assistance to our country by a large team of four renown consulting firms from the USA and Canada along with advisors from the internationally famous US energy giant Bechtel International have identified a  uniquely ideal site for the Upper Karnali storage dam project where a narrow mountain chain will be  performing exactly the role of a 410 meters high lateral dam.  Only a relatively small 260 meters high dam needed to plug the river would have to be constructed  to complete  the 410 high mammoth composite dam.

A Landmark in World’s Mega-structure History

Karnali river flows  from the proposed dam site in the south-east direction for about 25 kilometers, after that the river makes a complete  reversal in its direction. The river comes back to a point just two kilometers  away from its earlier position.  There is a drop of 150 meters  in Karnali river bed  elevations  between these two positions merely two kilometers away  from one another.  As explained before the narrow mountain range between the upper and lower courses of the river  will  be serving  as  the  410 meters high main dam whereas a  relatively moderate 260 meters high embankment dam at proposed dam site needed to plug the river will be its subsidiary component. This  world’s highest dam project  will be seen as a  landmark  in the world’s  mega-structure history.

Why Cheapest Electricity

The per unit energy generation cost of the Upper Karnali storage project will be exceptionally cheap  for two main reasons:  (a)  The operating hydraulic head for the generation of power would be very high. There will be significant reduction in generation cost of electricity at higher head if the dam cost is discounted. (b)   Though raising the dam height  helps to reduce significantly the generation cost of electricity if the dam cost is discounted but such dam height raising beyond certain range leads to exponential increase in dam cost. This is one of the main reasons why excessively high dams are not found to be highly attractive. In our case the project will be having the giant 410 meters high dam for free because a mountain serves as the dam.

Capacity Increase to 8000 MW

Water drawn from the storage reservoir into the 4180 MW underground power station constructed inside the mountain serving as the main dam will be generating annually  about 9000 GWH firm energy.  The total length of the waterway from the intake of the headrace to the end of the tailrace tunnel including the cross-sectional length of the underground power station will be quite short. It will be only about two kilometers. The similar length of the 10800 MW Karnali Chisapani Project is also two kilometers. 

There would be a great advantage in raising  the capacity of the Upper Karnali  project to 8000 MW if this project is to be dedicated to meet exclusively the demand for peaking. The per unit peaking energy generation cost of the Upper Karnali storage project operating at a very high water head of around 400 meters, as mentioned earlier, would be very low  in comparison with  such energy generation cost of the 10800 MW Karnali Chisapani project operating at heads of only around  200 meters. A big part of the peaking energy generated by the 8000 MW Upper Karnali project could be exported to India to the great advantage of our both countries.

Destruction of Bamiyan Buddha Statues

The monumental statues of Buddha built in sixth century in Bamiyan village of central Afghanistan were dynamited and destroyed by Talibans in March 2001. The statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art. Afghanistan Foreign Ministry had then claimed that those monuments were destroyed to protect Islamic faith.

India Desperate for Peaking Energy

India is experiencing acute shortage of peaking energy to supplement  its  thermal based power generation. At present a large number of pump storage plants are being constructed across the country to fulfill such energy  demand. One of the latest such projects is the Tehri pump storage project, which is under construction in Himanchal  province.

The 1000 MW Tehri pump storage project is based  on the concept that the four reversible pump turbine units of 250 MW each will be annually consuming 1712 GWH energy  to pump water to higher elevation during off peak hours in order to generate annually only 1268 GWH energy during the peak hours. The investment cost of the Tehri pump storage project is expected to be quite high because it would be operating at a comparatively  low hydraulic head of only about 200 meters.

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