India-Bhutan hydropower project bags prestigious Brunel Medal

Updated on Oct 21, 2020 04:42 PM IST

The 720 MW Mangdechhu project, which was jointly inaugurated by the prime ministers of the two countries in August 2019, was awarded the medal for excellence in civil engineering by the UK-based Institute of Civil Engineers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan, in New Delhi on May 31, 2019.(HT archive)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan, in New Delhi on May 31, 2019.(HT archive)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent | Edited by Smriti Sinha

The Mangdechhu hydroelectric project, an India-Bhutan venture, has been awarded the prestigious Brunel Medal for excellence in civil engineering by the UK-based Institute of Civil Engineers.

India-backed hydropower projects in Bhutan are an example of win-win cooperation, providing a reliable source of inexpensive and clean electricity for New Delhi and generating export revenues for Thimphu, said officials who declined to be named.

The 720-MW Mangdechhu run-of-river project was jointly inaugurated by the prime ministers of the two countries in August 2019, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Bhutan. It is one of seven hydroelectric projects being developed by Bhutan with India’s support as part of the Himalayan country’s plans to generate 10 GW of hydropower.

The Brunel Medal was conferred on the Mangdechhu hydroelectric project authority on October 5. The Institute of Civil Engineers 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.

The project also supported schools and health facilities by upgrading existing infrastructure. Several drinking water facilities and irrigation channels were developed by the project.

With the coming on stream of Mangdechhu project, Bhutan’s electricity generation capacity created with India’s assistance crossed 2,000 MW. Both countries have listed hydropower development as one of the most important areas of bilateral cooperation.

Since its commissioning, the project has earned revenues of 1,300 crore, higher than the projected target of 1,200 crore. Most of the 18.7 million units generated every day by the project meet the energy needs of Bhutan, and the surplus is exported to India.

During the project’s construction between 2012 and 2019, authorities took up several social and environment projects for the local community, including a basic health unit and infrastructure for schools in Trongsa district of Bhutan. The project, completed at an approximate cost of 5,000 crore, was funded by India through a 70% loan and 30% grant.

The Indian government has constructed four hydropower projects in Bhutan – the 1,020-MW Tala project, the 336-MW Chukha project, the 60-MW Kurichhu project and the Mangdechhu project. Three more – the 1,200-MW Punatsangchhu-I, the 1020-MW Punatsangchhu-II and the 600-MW Kholongchhu – are under construction. Kholongchhu is the first joint venture model project between the two sides.

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