The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has invited a Japanese team to assess the status of the 92MW Kulekhani Hydropower Project after the earthquake.
The only storage-type project of the country has sustained some “minor” impact at its dam. According to MoE, the jolt moved the Kuelkani dam, following which the water stored splashed creating a small crack, measuring around 100 metres, at the crest.
The ministry has asked Japan-based Nippon Koei to send experts, including dam experts, concrete structure experts and electro mechanical equipment experts.
“We have already assessed the dam and we know the damage is minor. We invited the Japanese firm for further study,” said Keshav Dhwoj Adhikari, joint secretary at the ministry.
He said Nippon Koei is the same firm which was involved in the design and construction supervision of Kulekhani. “Since they are aware about the design, inviting them makes sense,” he said.
A team of officials from the ministry, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), former
NEA employees involved in the construction of project and experts have assessed the dam and have termed the impact “minor”.
The team concluded the dam has no immediate threat, but it requires repair and maintenance.
The Japanese team will also assess the power house. “There is a hair-line crack. This too is not a big issue. But since we have already invited the foreign team, we want them to assess it as well,” Adhikari said.
NEA Managing Director Mukesh Raj Kafle said they are expecting the Japanese team to arrive within a couple of weeks.
“Kulekhani, being the only storage-type project, is important for us. Also, there will be a huge impact the dam faces issues. So we want to make sure by holding multiple assessments,” said Kafle.
The ministry has stated the problem at the dam is not new as a similar case had occurred in the very first year of the operation of Kuleknahi.
The reservoir feeds power to two projects—60MW Kulekhani I and 32MW Kulekhani II. The project plays an instrumental role in supplying power to the country during the dry season since generation from run-of-the-river type projects dip significantly.
According to NEA, it has also assessed other major projects like Middle-Marsyangdi, Lower Marsyangdi and Kali Gandagi Hydropower Project. The assessment was done by experts invited in coordination with KFW German.
“The preliminary assessment looks good. However, we are waiting for a formal report,” Kafle said, adding the state-owned power utility is holding assessment at all hydropower plants under it to make sure no major problems arise in future.