Govt. Suspends Begana Power Project

Original news title: Shelved (for now, at least)

Power Project 3 January, 2011 – The 20 MW Begana power project in Thimphu, which the Bhutan Power Corporation proposed, has been shelved by the government considering economic, cultural and environment cost involved.

During the meet the press on December 30, agriculture minister Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said going ahead with the project could be too costly both ecologically and culturally. The project estimated to cost Nu 1.113B is proposed near Buddhist sites of Tango and Cheri.

Parts of the project also fell in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuk national park. Considering the sensitivity of the people, Nu 8M was earmarked for environment monitoring project this year.

The small scale hydroelectric project, which BPC said was technically feasible and viable, if went through, was expected to meet the capital’s peak demand for electricity in winter and also supply water to the capital city. The project once completed was expected to generate about 101 units of power a year. It was also aimed at ensuring energy security lest breakdown occurs in Chhukha and Tala power stations. Thimphu’s peak demand for electricity in winter is projected at 30 MW.

BPC’s managing director Dasho Bharat Tamang said right now the project will be on hold but it will commence construction whenever it is deemed feasible.

As a corporate social responsibility, BPC proposed piping the water at the end of the tunnel, treating it and then sending it through a water pipeline to the Thimphu city corporation.

It was estimated that water shortfall in the core Thimphu area amounted to 800 cubic meters a day. The water supply aspect of the project was estimated to supply enough water to more than six times the population of Thimphu.

The project was to be built along the Thimchhu River with its main base in Kawang gewog. It was proposed that water from Kawang Gewog would be diverted in to a 6.3 km tunnel and pipeline to turn turbines at the power house near Begana.

However the project couldn’t commence without the green signal from Lhengye Zhungtshog.

The project was also estimated to earn Nu 83.8M a year in carbon trading under the clean development mechanism.

Source: Kuensel Newspaper