Row over Thankot-Chapagaun-Bhaktapur transmission line could result in outage in Lalitpur, electricity authority says

- Prahlad Rijal, Kathmandu

May 2, 2019-

The electricity authority has said Lalitpur could face power cuts if a transmission line that passes through some ancient villages on the outskirts of the district, is not completed on time.

The Nepal Electricity Authority’s plan to complete the decades-old 132 kV Thankot-Chapagaun-Bhaktapur Transmission Line Project has met with opposition from the locals of Khokana, Bungamati, Harisidhhi and Lamatar, who say the power utility must realign the high tension lines to curb social costs.

“If the project is delayed further, we will have no option than to enforce power cuts in Lalitpur,” said Kulman Ghising, managing director of the Nepal Electricity Authority.

According to the electricity authority, it was planning to revive the decades-old project designed to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to Kathmandu Valley.

As of now, the state-owned utility is feeding power in Lalitpur through the 66kV Syuchatar-Patan-Baneshwor line which it says is “already overloaded”. “Feeders in the present setup and capacity will not be able to transmit enough power,” said Ghising.

On Wednesday, an inspection team led by Ghising found a disintegrated transmission pylon lying in a field in Khokana. While officials believe locals had brought the structure down, local representatives say heavy winds had knocked it down.

Locals of Khokana, Bungmati, Harisidhhi and Lamatar have been protesting against the transmission line project demanding that the high tension lines must be rerouted and aligned with other development projects to preserve cultural heritage and reduce threats on human settlements.

“The residents have asked the officials to pay heed to cultural heritage and future livelihood of the human settlements in the area and align the high tension lines with the Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track, and outer ring road,” said ward chair Rabindra Maharjan. “The authorities had during a meeting of the stakeholders assured denizens that they would carry out discussions and come up with a solution,” Maharjan told the Post. “But nothing has been done yet.”

Works on the Kathmandu-Bhaktapur front of the project have already been completed, according to the electricity authority.

“Harisidhhi locals have not allowed the authority to resume works despite receiving proper compensation for the land acquired for towers and a building for a substation,” a source at the electricity authority told the Post on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“Locals have demanded that the authorities either change the route of the power lines or provide them 100 percent compensation,” the source said. “Authorities are holding discussions to fix the acquisition and compensation rates for the land—nine metres left and right—through which the high tension lines run.”

The transmission lines run through 14 km in Lalitpur where the authority plans to set up at least 51 pylons. Of them, foundations have been built for 35 towers and 15 towers have been erected. But the high voltage cables have not been installed.

The electricity authority had terminated the contract of the $23 million project nine years ago after obstructions from the locals.

“The previous contractor had imported all materials and equipment needed to erect the towers,” said Sunil Mahato, the chief of the project. “If we are allowed to resume works, we can complete the project within six months.”

The state-owned power utility has been paying 100 percent compensation for installing towers and 10-25 percent of the value of land that falls on the right of way. It had distributed 25 percent in right-of-way compensation in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.

The state-owned power utility has also almost completed construction of the Matatirtha sub-station as new projects will soon start generating electricity soon.

On Monday, technicians concluded the structural and performance tests at Trishuli 3A hydel plant which will supply an additional 30MW to the valley via Matatirtha.

“The Matatirtha substation with a capacity of relaying 1,500MW of electricity is nearing completion. But if we are not allowed to complete the Thankot-Chapagaun-Bhaktapur transmission line, we will not be able to supply additional electricity to Lalitpur,” said Ghising. “Upon completion, we will be able to improve supply through the 132 kV main lines with higher capacity than the existing 66kV line and eliminate the issue of voltage fluctuations in the Valley,” added Ghising. “If the transmission line is not completed, there will be outage; and it will be despite having power in abundance.”

Published: 03-05-2019 07:00

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