A concession agreement for the first India-Bhutan joint venture hydroelectric project was signed on Monday, paving the way for the commencement of its construction and other related works.
The agreement was signed in a virtual ceremony, witnessed by India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Bhutanese counterpart Tandi Dorji.
A statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated, “The signing of the concession agreement will lead to commencement of construction and other works of this first joint venture hydroelectric project between India and Bhutan. The project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2025.”
The project will be implemented by Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited, a joint venture vehicle formed between India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) and Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC).
The Kholongchhu hydroelectric project is located on the lower course of the Kholongchhu river in eastern Bhutan’s Trashiyangtse district. The project will consist of four 150MW turbines and a concrete gravity dam of 95 metres in height. It is expected to generate 600MW of power once completed.
Describing the agreement as a “milestone”, Jaishankar said the commencement of construction activities of the project will create economic and employment opportunities in Bhutan in this critical time.
“Our two countries are together in fighting this global pandemic. Government of India has provided support, as it should, to Bhutan in terms of medical equipment, kits and medicines as per Royal Government of Bhutan’s requirements,” he said.
“Besides continuing with our developmental partnership, we have also ensured uninterrupted supply of essentials and other goods to Bhutan despite the lockdowns,” he added.
With the signing of the Kholongchhu agreement, the two governments are now in the process of expediting the completion of other ongoing projects, including the 1200MW Punatsangchhu-1 and 1020MW Punatsangchhu-2 plants.
Other operational hydroelectric projects in Bhutan built with Indian cooperation include the Chukha, Kurichhu, Tala, and Mangdechhu plants. They provide a total of 2100 MW of power to Bhutanese households.