From regular medical tests to following the most complicated health protocols in pleasing the local community, COVID-19 has brought so many constraints to big development projects.
From civil work to other technical works, there are more difficulties for the hydropower projects in continuing their construction strictly following the health protocols.
Bearing all risks and facing all challenges, Pradeep Kumar Thike, managing director of Tanahun Hydropower Company, has been pushing the construction work by mobilizing contractors and consultants.
To start the construction work during the COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult and complicated task. From following health protocols to allowing laborers to work, Tanahu Hydropower Project has shown a way to accelerate construction giving a testing as a key.
Delayed for over two years due to various unavoidable reasons, MD Thike, who prefers to work quietly to achieve the high performance, does not want any interruptions on the construction. Working quietly in a low profile, MD Thike has been mobilizing the whole teams including project staffs, contractors and consultants in the project site to achieve the target.
Despite a series of lockdown, obstructions by local community and disruption of movement of people due to the spread of COVID-19, Tanahu Hydropower Project has made a breakthrough in 188 long cable-tunnels, a critical part of the project to start the excavation of powerhouse.
“We have been taking very cautious approach, convincing community and giving priority to safety of the workers and other staffs,” said MD Thike. “We have been following the health safety protocol seriously and deputing the workers only after the negative PCR Test.”
Since the last March, almost all major hydro power projects have been facing difficulties to carry out the work. In the first three months, they spared time to develop the safety protocol.
Having long experiences in various under-construction projects in different capacities, MD Thike has a complete grasp of construction management and mobilization. With practical knowledge of the complication of construction, MD Thike, who prefers to work quietly in a team spirit, rarely boasts the performance.
As many projects shut down during the biggest festival of Nepali Hindus, Bada Dashain, holidays couldn't halt the construction work of Tanahun Hydroelectricity Project. There were no disturbances in the construction process despite the Dashain festival. Although the Nepali workers were on leave, the Chinese workers gave continuity to the construction.
“During the holidays, we continued expert works like installing various equipment underground powerhouse,” said MD Thike. “We have already started to take PCR-Test of labors returned from home. The construction of powerhouse is now almost full swing.”
Chinese contractor Sino Hydro Corporation has been working in the site under the package 2, on powerhouse construction, procurement of hydro-mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment.
The project has encountered many major problems after MD Thike took charge. After scrapping the contract with CMC di Ravenna, Italy in April 2019, the project had to start the contract bidding process from scratch.
The procurement of Package 1(Head works) has been significantly delayed due to unavoidable termination of the Contract with CMC di Ravenna, Italy and the rejection of all bids received for the re-bidding, being substantially non-responsive to the requirements of bidding documents.
After the re-invitation of Re-bid II on 28 February 2020 and the opening of bids on 06 July 2020, the evaluation of technical bids has completed with support from the Project Supervision Consultant (PSC). “Now, it will be sent soon to Asian Development Bank for final evaluation,” said MD Thike, who handled every issue carefully and brought the project on track.
According to local reporting, some 200 Nepali and 50 Chinese workers have been deployed in the construction site by Sino Hydro, a Chinese Company that had received the deal to construct the second package of the project.
"During Dashain, the Chinese technicians and laborers installed various equipment in the powerhouse," said Thike. The workers who returned from home have been going through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test before being deployed in the work site.”
During the period, many types of equipment of hydro and electromechanical equipment were installed.
Similarly, the construction of the transmission line of the project in Rhising Ruram Municipality-1, Jhaputar is also underway. KEC, an Indian company, for the construction transmission line with 200 kV double circuits ranging from Damauli to Bharatpur of Chitwan.
The $550-million project is being built with a credit facility extended by the Asian Development Bank ($150 million), Japan International Cooperation Agency ($184 million), European Investment Bank ($85 million) and investment amounting to $87 million from the electricity authority and government.
The Tanahu Hydropower Project, one of the biggest reservoir-type projects in the country, is projected to generate massive 587.7-gigawatt-hours in the first 10 years of operation. The project can generate energy for six hours daily during the dry season.
The project aims to complete the construction of the storage type project and generate electricity by June 2024. With the length of the cable tunnel, 188 meters, it helps excavation upfront of the underground power house. Works at the Cable Tunnel have been resumed since 10 July 2020.
On completion of the package one construction, which includes the construction of a 140-meter high dam, cofferdams, two river diversion tunnels and other structures, the project will enter into a new phase giving MD Thike a sigh of relief after signing the contract agreement with the new contractor.