The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tala Hydroelectric Project Commissioned

Tala commissioned today

Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2006, @ 03:42:35 EDT 29 July 2006-
The Tala Hydroelectric Project, a new backbone for Bhutan’s economic development, will earn more than Nu.4.00 billion a year from the export of power to India. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince withMr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and officials of the two countries. After a series of negotiations over three years Bhutan and India agreed on the tariff for the export of power to India at Rs. 1.80 per unit. The rate will be increased every five years by 10 percent until the loan of about Rs.17 billion for the project is repaid and then by five percent every five years. In the presence of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the “protocol” on the tariff was signed on July 28 in New Delhi by the Bhutanese minister for Trade and Industry, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, and India’s minister for Power, Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde.
A “power purchase agreement”, valid for 35 years, will be signed in August by the two nodal agencies, the Department of Energy of Bhutan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the PTC India Ltd.

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba described the Tala agreement as a testimony of the trust and friendship that existed between the two countries and an initiative to strengthen their excellent ties of goodwill and cooperation. He said it was a “win-win” situation for both countries. For Bhutan it would be a major contribution to the national budget, balance of payment, and the country’s economic future. It would be a significant contribution to power deficit in India.
“It will help us to achieve His Majesty’s goal of economic self reliance,” he said.
The Tala agreement was signed on March 5, 1996, in the presence of His Majesty the King and Prime Minister Narasimha Rao of India.
Leaders of the two countries applauded the massive bilateral project as an important milestone in economic cooperation between the two close neighbours, a project that would directly benefit the people.
Over the past 10 years, as thousands of Bhutanese and Indian officials, engineers, and workers built the project, His Majesty the King visited the project site regularly, raising the profile of the project, providing moral support for the workers, and ensuring a pace of progress not seen in South Asia.
“His Majesty the King knows all the details of the project,” the project’s managing director, Mr. R. N. Khazanchi, told Kuensel after a royal visit in 2002. “His Majesty’s personal interest and words of encouragement and support to engineers and workers will strengthen our resolve to strive even harder to complete the project on time.”
Tala had to overcome the many surprises of a young Himalayan geology. The project saw heavy monsoons rains, massive landslides, earthquakes, road blocks, and other forces of nature. It boasts striking features like a massive dam and a 23-kilometre headrace tunnel under the mountains, the second longest in the world.
With the transmission system transferring the Tala power to the Indian grid through four circuits, Tala is expected to have a substantial impact on industries in India and will light up houses as far as New Delhi.
The minister for Power, Mr. Shinde, said that Tala was a very important and “prestigious” project. “I am very happy with the Tala project because we will now be getting about 1,000MW of very reliable power,” he said. “It is at a very critical time that we got it.”

By Kinley Dorji in New

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