| September 25, 2016
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Earthquake damages over dozen hydropower projects

Generation of 150 MW affected

KATHMANDU, May 5: The devastating earthquake of April 25 and series of aftershocks that followed the main shake have damaged around 14 hydropower plants across the country, resulting to loss of 150 MW of electricity from country's power grid.

As a result, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility, is distributing only 564 MW including 210 MW imported from India.


Sher Singh Bhat, deputy managing director of NEA, said Sunkoshi Hydropower Project has suffered serious damages. Other projects can be brought into operation after some maintenance works, he added.

Bhat further said they can restore Trishuli and Devighat powerhouses within a week. But he said NEA has not been able to start maintenance works due to shortage of laborers and heavy equipment operators.

Staff members' quarters in Trishuli, Devighat and Sunkoshi projects have been completely damaged. According to NEA, and staff members there are residing in temporary tents.

Sunkoshi Hydropower Project, which was damaged by Jure landslide last year, has suffered physical damage yet again. Its 3-km canal has multiple leakages. The project can be brought into operation only after three or four months, according to Bhat.

"None of the undergoing projects, except Upper Trishuli 3A, has suffered physical damage. Upper Trishuli 3A has been damaged by landslide on both sides of the river triggered by the earthquake," Bhat said, adding, "About 3 kilometers access road of the project has been washed away by the landslide."

Cracks have appeared in the dam of Kulekhani Hydropower Project. Preliminary assessment of the cracks is being carried out by former officials and experts of NEA who were involved in development of the project, according to Bhat. "It won't make any impact right away as the cracks are above the current water level. But it might create problem when the water level goes up during monsoon," he added.

Upper Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project, which is built by independent power producers, has also suffered some damages. Narendra Prajapati, CEO of Bhotekoshi Power Company, said penstock pipe of the project has been damaged by boulders that fell from nearby cliff due to earthquake. "We had shut down intake soon after the first earthquake," Prajapati said. "We assume generators have been flooded by the leakage of water due to damage in penstock."

A total of 13 were evacuated from the project sites following the earthquake. The project had remained shut for about five months after its pylons were washed away by Jure landslide on August 2 last year.