Strengthening its relationships with neighbouring countries, India has recently signed a pact with Bhutan for the construction of the 600 MW Kholongchhu joint venture hydroelectric project in the Himalayan nation.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Bhutanese counterpart Tandi Dorji, who joined the event via a video link. The project, operated by the Bhutanese government and the Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited, is set to be completed in five years.
For the uninitiated, the Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited is a joint venture between Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL). The agreement is being seen as a strategic move on part of India to strengthen its relationship with its other neighbours while it faces border skirmishes with Pakistan and China.
According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry of India, 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 600 MW run-of-the-river project is located on the lower course of the Kholongchhu River in Trashiyangtse district in eastern Bhutan. As revealed by the Indian foreign ministry, the project includes an underground powerhouse of four 150 MW turbines with water impounded by a concrete gravity dam of 95 metres height.
At the event, both Indian and Bhutanese foreign ministers discussed in great detail the importance of hydropower development within the India-Bhutan sphere of cooperation. The two ministers described the arrangement as “mutually beneficial.”
With this project in fold, Bhutan now has four hydroelectric projects of bilateral cooperation (336 MW Chukha Hydroelectric project, the 60 MW Kurichhu Hydro Electric project, the 1,020 MW Tala Hydro Electric Project and the 720 MW Mangdechhu Hydro Electric Project) totalling over 2,100 MW.