PSU hydropower firms to build Rs 25k-crore projects in Bhutan

Written by Noor Mohammad | Noor Mohammad | Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 21 2014, 05:40am hrs
Indias PSU hydropower companies are setting up projects entailing combined investments of R20,000-25,000 crore in Bhutan, report Noor Mohammad & Huma Siddiqui in New Delhi.

The Himalayan kingdom has allocated four projects to NHPC, SJVN and THDC for implementation in joint ventures with Bhutans state-owned companies. Indian banks and financial institutions are expected to finance these projects.

Along with the slew of domestic projects being planned, projects in hydro-resource-rich Bhutan are expected to help the Indian PSUs maintain growth momentum.

Sources said Kholongchhu (600 MW) and Wangchhu (570 MW) projects have been allocated to SJVN while NHPC and THDC have got Chamkharchhu (770 MW)and Wangchu (180 MW), respectively.

The proposed JVs will have equal equity sharing between Indian and Bhutanese state-owned companies. Surplus power from these projects will be exported to India.

A senior government official told FE: Detailed project reports (DPRs)

for the four hydel projects in Bhutan have been submitted for appraisal to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) which is expected to complete the work in 3-4 months.

The official added: While 30% equity component will be shared equally between Indian and Bhutanese state-owned companies, the balance will be financed by debt to be raised by JVs.

As per an agreement signed with Bhutan in 2006, India has to develop 10,000 MW in the neighbouring country. Against that, about 1,400 MW capacity has been developed with the help of funds provided by the ministry of external affairs from its own budget. The MEA has now decided to shift to the JV system and involve PSUs in implementing hydel projects as it is not in a position to meet financing requirements of these projects from its own resources.

States rich in hydro-resources, including Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have auctioned out hydel projects totalling over 50,000 MW capacity in defiance of the national hydropower policy and based on considerations like upfront payment of per-MW premium. Since PSUs are not allowed to participate in such bidding, most of the projects have been garnered by private companies.

Bhutan holds potential for 30,000 MW from hydro-resources. Under Indo-Bhutan cooperation in the hydropower sector, three projects Tala, Chukha and Kurichu have been commissioned while Punatsangchhu-I and II (1,200 MW and 990 MW respectively) and 720 MW Mangdechu are under implementation.

India is pursuing similar cooperation with Nepal in hydropower and with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in thermal generation.