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India-Bhutan Joint Hydropower Project Bags Prestigious Brunel Medal

NEW DELHI, Oct 24: A Indo-Bhutanese Joint Venture (JV) project has been awarded the prestigious Brunel Medal for excellence in civil engineering by the UK-based Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). 

 

The Award was, conferred on the prestigious 720 MW Mangdechhu hydroelectric project (HEPP) located in Trongsa Dzongkhag district, Bhutan. 

 

ICE, based in London is an independent professional association for civil engineers and a charitable body in the United Kingdom. It has over 93,000 members of which around 23,000 members are located spanning more than 150 countries outside the UK. The ICE awards recognise the brightest and the best in the field of civil engineering.

 

One amongst the ten hydroelectric projects on the run-of-the-river, Mangdechhu project was signed by Government of India and Royal Government of Bhutan in 2009 to accelerate hydropower development by harnessing 10,000 MW by 2020. 

 

The two governments signed the agreement for the construction of Mangdechhu HEPP for Rs 28.96 billion in April, 2010 which by the time completed in 2016 went up to Rs 40.20 billion. The project was entirely funded by India with 70 per cent loan and 30 per cent grant.

 

Within two months of the signing of the agreement, the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA) was, initiated to manage the project. The construction of the project began in June 2012 and was completed in seven years.

Most of the electricity generated by the Mangdechhu hydropower project meets the energy requirements of Bhutan. The surplus electricity is exported to India.

 

The first of the four power plant units were commissioned on June 16, last year, while the second unit was commissioned in July. The project was officially inaugurated in August jointly by the Prime Ministers of two countries during which PTC India Ltd and Druk Green Power Corporation signed a power purchase agreement (PPA).

 

The ICE said the project provided employment opportunities to the local community, particularly families affected by the venture, and facilitated local people to take up business activities.

 

During the project’s construction between 2012 and 2019, authorities took up several social and environmental projects for the local community, including a basic health unit and infrastructure for schools in Trongsa district of Bhutan. 

 

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) supplied the underground powerhouse of the Bhutanese hydroelectric project with four 180MW Pelton turbines. The main cavern of the underground powerhouse is 53m-high and 231m-long.

(Venkatesh Iyer)