India plans to build some seven hydel projects in neighbouring Bhutan with a combined electricity generating capacity of 7,020 megawatts (mw). This will be on top of three existing power projects — Chukha, Tala and Kurichhu — which churn out about 1,400 mw and another three — Punatsangchhu-I, Punat-sangchhu-II and Mangdechhu — which are being built and will generate 2,940 mw.
In Bhutan's Thimpu, a meeting of an empowered joint group headed by Bhutan’s Minister for Economy was held last month to review six projects for which detailed reports have been prepared. The six projects are the proposed 2,560 mw Sankosh project, Chamkharchhu (770 mw), Kholongchhu (660 mw), Amochhu (540 mw), Wangchu (570 mw) and the Bunakha (180 mw).
Another project Kuri Gongri, which can produce 1,800 mw of power, is being studied by experts, and a report is expected soon. Around 90 per cent of the power to be generated by these projects will be sold to the Indian power grid, while the rest used by Bhutan’s burgeoning industrial regions.
These projects are part of a larger plan to develop hydel power capable of generating 10,000MW from Bhutan by 2020. Since most of these projects will be under joint ventures, the panel has directed generating firms such as National Hydel Power Corporation, NTPC, Tehri Hydro Development Corporation and SJVN Ltd to register themselves in Bhutan and work out financial closures.