PM’s ACCUSATION ON PHPA I DAM SITE CHANGE: BLATANT LIE

On being queried by the Opposition on the poor average growth of GDP at 5% against the pledge of 10%, the Prime Minister submitted the delay in the completion of the PHPA I as the main factor. He accused the DPT government of changing the site of the dam unilaterally. This is yet another blatant lie to the august House as well as our people.

All officials involved in the construction of mega projects like PHPA I are fully aware of standard procedures wherein all decisions including changes in the design have to be scrutinized and approved by all stakeholders and that changes cannot be made by any individual agency or Government where more than one Government is involved in a project.
The GoI who is financing the entire cost of PHPA I and committed to buy all surplus power at cost plus tariff mode would never agree to the RGoB undertaking any changes in design such as relocation of the dam site without the scrutiny and clearance of their technical agencies as well as their Government.

The approval provided by the Union Cabinet of the GoI for the revised cost of the PHPA I in July 2015 clearly reflects the involvement of their technical agencies and their Government at every stage of the project construction.

In keeping with what has been submitted above, records with the PHPA I clearly show that discussions have been held by the Management with the concerned agencies of the RGoB and the GoI from December 2007 (prior to start of democracy in 2008) to February 2009 on the relocation of the dam site. The main reason for the change in the dam site was that while the DPR site had 70m over burden depth below river bed, the new site had an estimated depth of 35m and an additional generation of 105MW (increase from 1095MW to 1200 MW). Detailed studies were undertaken and discussions held between the technical agencies of the two Governments. Final clearance for the change in the location of the dam site was provided by the CMD of WAPCOS (A Government of India undertaking), Consultant to the PHPA I in consultation with the CWC and the GSI on 12th February 2009. WAPCOS is the agency which had prepared the DPR of PHPA I. CWC and GSI are the premium agencies of the GoI for hydropower construction.

It is to be noted that all hydropower projects such as Chukha, Kurichu, Tala also encountered problems during construction. However, the project managements supported by the technical agencies of India and Bhutan and the two Governments have resolved them on a timely basis and completed the projects on time.

In the case of PHPA I, a landslide had occurred on the right bank of the dam in July 2013. It was therefore the responsibility of the PDP Government, which was elected around the same time as the occurrence of the landslide, to resolve the problem.

It is most unfortunate for our nation that the PDP Government failed to resolve the problem in the 5 years of their term. This clearly reflects their incompetency and lack of commitment to resolve the landslide related problem and complete the project with minimum delay. This is demonstrated by the frequent change of the Minister for Economic Affairs who is the Chairperson of the PHPA I project.

The PDP Government is therefore solely responsible and accountable for the delay in the completion of the PHPA I project. It began its term by blaming the past Governments and is ending its term by doing the same. It is time for PDP to accept their countless failures.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa

Thimphu