Bhutan Hydropower Developments in 2015

Above: Punatsanghchu River in Bhutan

Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures its development in terms of Gross National Happiness, which includes environmental conservation and preservation of culture[1]. However, Bhutan’s hydropower construction spree in the recent years has increased debt burden on the country. Concerns are emerging over Bhutan’s profligate spending on a single sector without bringing commensurate benefit to its citizens. Hydropower development in the country faces severe risk of climate change effects and has a huge social and ecological cost. But Bhutan continues to develop hydropower claiming that the revenues would fuel economic growth and the loans are self-liquidating. This review of hydropower developments in Bhutan during the year 2015 is based on media reports throughout the year and other publicly available information. 

Bhutan’s installed hydropower capacity currently stands at 1,606 MW, which is about 6% of the estimated 24,000 MW hydropower potential of the country. The 11th Plan (2013-2018) targets to augment the installed power capacity to 3,446 MW. The country produces way more power than it needs and exports 75% of it to India.

In 2006, Bhutan and India signed an agreement on cooperation in hydropower. In March 2009, the protocol to the 2006 agreement was drawn under which India agreed to develop 10,000 MWs of hydropower capacity in Bhutan for export of surplus power to India by 2020. This capacity is expected to come from 10 mega projects. Of these, 3 projects – 1200 MW Punatsangchu-I, 1020 MW Punatsangchu-II and 720 MW Mangdechhu, being built in the inter-governmental model, -are under construction.

Following an inter governmental agreement signed in April 2014, the construction of 570 MW Wangchhu, 600 MW Kholongchhu, 180 MW Bunakha and 770 MW Chamkharchhu projects were approved by the government of India. The total investment on these projects would equal almost twice the size of country’s economy. These are Joint Venture projects and the Bhutan government owned Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) will partner with public sector Indian companies SJVNL Ltd (formerly Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited), THDC Ltd (formerly Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited) and NHPC Ltd (formerly National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd) for these projects. The projects would require debt financing of about Nu 140 bn that would mostly be raised from the Indian market. The foundation stone for the 600 MW Kholongchhu was laid in June 2014. By January 2016, work on Kholongchhu had begun with tenders given out for construction of roads.

The remaining three projects under the 10,000 MW target, are in different stages of detailed project reports (DPR) evaluation. These are the 2,560 MW Sunkosh[2], 540 MW Amochu[3] and the 2,640 MW Kuri Gongri[4] projects. In the long-term Bhutan envisages 74 dams in cascades across the country.

External debt growing at 9.5%: Borrowings to finance hydropower projects and imports for the related construction have sent Bhutan’s external debt soaring. In Jan 2015, the Royal Monetary Authority, Bhutan’s central bank, released its annual report for July 2013- June 2014, showing an increase of 9.5% in external debt taking it to USD 1.8 bn. As of Sept 2014, the external debt was equivalent to 108% of GDP. This is a sharp increase since June 2009, when it amounted to 69.4% of GDP. Huge amounts are spent in making the annual repayments.

Rupee debt constitutes 64% of the total debt. As of June 2014, hydropower loans account for 83.4% of the outstanding rupee loans. The loans for each project run into billions of rupees. As of fiscal year 2013-14, disbursement amounted to Rs 25.7 bn for Punatshangchu I, Rs 14 bn for Punatshangchu II and Rs 10.4 bn for Mangdechu hydropower projects.

Bhutan needs to go slow on fresh hydropower development projects to safeguard its financial stability, say reports. More than 40% of the country’s export is hydropower, and its second major export, metal-based products, is also highly dependent on cheap electricity. The high dependence on hydropower exposes it to ‘trade shocks’ and any uncertainty in these projects would, a UN report states, pose a great threat to the country’s economy.

In Sept 2015, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) of the United Nations recommended Bhutan’s graduation from LDC (least developed country) status in 2018 to 2021. This will entail a decrease in assistance from the United Nations, decrease in grants and increase the loan component from development partners.

However the government, both the former and the current, has stressed that hydropower debts are self-liquidating. Legislators in favour of going ahead with harnessing more hydropower make the argument that the debt is sustainable because projects will eventually generate significant revenue, boost exports and fuel economic growth. Promise of returns on commissioning of projects, strong track record of project implementation, support from donors are some of the grounds taken by proponents of hydro projects. Uygen Wangchuk, the then secretary of the National Environment Commission and in charge of granting environmental clearances for new projects, admits there are increasing pressures both within and outside the government to push through hydropower, mining and quarrying. And Bhutan has continued to pursue construction of big hydropower projects.

Hydropower advances in 2015 The Punatsangchu II project started construction of the dam on April 1, 2015. The 1,020 MW project is 15 km downstream of the 1,200 MW Punatsangchhu I. The project was started in Dec 2010. In May 2015, the Mangdechu project began concreting the foundation of the dam, which will block the Mangdechu and divert it through the tunnels. The dam will be built 141 metres high. The project will procure cement from the Bhutanese Dungsam Cement Project.

The 126 MW Dagachhu Project located in Dagana Dzongkhag, Bhutan was fully commissioned on March 17, 2015. This run of the river project is the first hydroelectric project that has been successfully completed under Bhutanese management. The Dagachhu project is a joint venture initiative between Tata Power of India, and DGPC. Tata Power will import the power under a 25-year power purchase agreement, to sell electricity in the Indian market. Dagachhu is registered under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM is an instrument of the Kyoto Protocol that allows developed countries to invest in greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation projects in developing countries to earn credits for use to offset their own GHG emissions or for sale in the open market. The Dagachhu project has led to other projects being cleared under CDM. The main promoter of the project was the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which has agreed to finance more hydropower projects in Bhutan.

Problems with hydropower: Time and cost overruns are very common in the construction of hydropower projects escalating the expenditure.

Work on the 1200 MW Punatsangchhu-I hydroelectric project commenced in 2008 and was initially expected to commission by 2016 but the project is running over two years behind schedule. In July 2013, the project witnessed a geological surprise – the right bank of the project site had sunk, with the loose rock-face gradually moving down to the base of the dam site being excavated. The sinking riverbank necessitated stabilizing the riverbank and design changes in the project. The strengthening work has compelled the project to make technological changes in constructing the dam. The project cost has gone up from the initial estimate of Nu 40 bn to Nu 94 bn which is Rs 9400 crore (1 Nu = 1 INR). Additionally remedial measures for the right bank landslide would cost the project an amount of Nu 3.5 B. The Indian government which has provided 40% cost as grants and loan for the rest, has approved the cost revision, but the major share of the losses will be borne by Bhutan. The increase in loan means a higher amount of interest to be paid. The delay has also cost the profits from the foregone power generation.

It has been reported that a joint report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and the Royal Audit Authority of Bhutan (RAA) indicates that the Geological Survey of India knew that there might be “geological surprises” in the area, still the project was awarded to the Indian infrastructure company Larsen & Toubro without investigating more into the extent of these surprises.

The Punatsangchhu – II project reportedly came short of a similar disaster when the left bank of the project site almost slid because of poor geology in Feb. 2015. Remedial measures had to be taken using cable anchors to support lose mass and prevent it from sliding. The project authority said that the poor geology was not reflected in the limited drilling investigations done preliminarily. The geological problems only became known when the project began excavating deeper. As a result, the completion of this project has also been delayed. While the initial cost of the project was Nu 37.78 bn, the cost has been revised to Nu 75 bn.

The mega hydropower projects entail huge spending by the government but create little employment for the citizens. The development of hydropower projects is highly capital intensive. Currently, the power sector employs 7,400 Bhutanese nationals. Most of the jobs created by hydropower are in construction, which is generally unattractive to educated young Bhutanese, and youth unemployment rates remain high. The construction work is done by thousands of migrant workers, mostly brought from India by contractors for the construction who are accommodated in shanties along roadsides and work under dubious employment conditions.

India has been giving significant financial assistance to hydropower development in Bhutan through a mix of loans and grants. Some have alleged unfavorable and inequitable terms of project execution causing a number of Bhutanese businesses to fail. The projects bring plum contracts for Indian engineering and design consultants, developers, contractors and equipment providers. However, many of the Indian companies designing and building the dams have poor track records. Much of the construction material for the dams comes from India.

The trade imbalance with India, which supplies almost all of Bhutan’s needs such as petrol, construction materials, grains, meat, has impacted Bhutan’s economy over the last few years as rupees flow out at a much faster rate than are brought in by Bhutan.

Moreover, while Bhutan exports power to India in summer, it must import electricity at a higher price during the winter when river flow is low. In the last 3 years, DGPC generation of power in the lean month of January has only been 1/6th of the generation in the peak months of July-September[5]. On the other hand, the domestic demand for electricity has increased over the last couple of years. The rural electrification strategy has increased the coverage of domestic electricity consumption with more people switching to electricity from traditional sources like fuel wood and kerosene. Construction works of the Punatsangchhu I and II, Mangdechhu and Dagachhu projects have also necessitated power imports which are likely to increase even further for the construction work of the 118 MW Nikachhu and 600 MW Kholongchhu projects. With the establishment of a few small-scale industries in the east and the commissioning of the 26 MW power sink, the Dungsam Cement plant, the import of power is expected to increase further.

Changing profile of hydropower import by India from Bhutan

Officials from DGPC said domestic demand management has been mainly achieved through restrictions on approving new energy intensive industries for the time being. This is contradictory to the frequent argument in favour of hydropower expansion that the revenue from hydropower would fuel industrial growth.

Bhutan’s hydropower expansion is hinged on the assumption that it will profit from India purchasing a large fraction of the generated power. The massive investments will be fruitless if India does not buy the power. However in July 2015, it was reported that Tata Power is making losses in selling power from Dagachu‘s project in India. While DGPC gets the fixed price per unit under the power purchase agreement between the 2 companies, it loses out as it is also entitled to a significant share of the profits that Tata Power may make.

Tata Power officials said that tariff rates in India have become very low because of poor financial condition of discoms and power suppliers are landing losses. India’s power generation capacity has also been increasing. Tata Power has also not been allowed yet to sell power imported from Bhutan at Indian Power Exchanges due to absence of rules from the Indian Ministry of Power with regard to cross border trading in electricity through the Indian Power Exchanges.

Low power tariffs in India is even more worrying for Bhutan as the cost escalations of the Punatsangchhu projects, which are next in pipeline, would increase the per unit price of the generated electricity even more.

With such a huge volume of hydropower generation, Bhutan would aim to sell power to Nepal and Bangladesh through regional power grids, but it has been reported that existing agreements with India give little room to manoeuvre.

In 2006, post commissioning of the 1020 MW Tala hydropower project, the share of hydropower to Bhutan’s GDP increased to 22%. However, the sector’s financial performance has been deteriorating since 2007. The net profit (before tax) per unit of electricity sold has fallen sharply since 2007, driven by rising costs and declining revenue. In 2013, the share of hydropower to GDP went down to 19%. The share of electricity sector to the national revenue steadily decreased from 44.6% in 2001 to 20% in 2013. A research paper of the World Bank stated that the hydropower sector’s “high commercial profitability” cannot be taken for granted and should the sector’s financial performance continue to deteriorate, Bhutan’s solvency could be threatened.

Changing climate threatens hydropower sector: A report by the ADB warned that Bhutan could suffer severely due to climate change. Climate change effects can cause flooding, landslides and reduced energy production from hydropower. At the current rate of global warming, Bhutan would see an average loss of 1.4% of GDP annually by 2050. Heavy reliance on glacier fed lakes for hydropower makes Bhutan highly vulnerable to climate change.

Bhutan has lost 20% of its glaciers in the last 20 years and river flow is predicted to fall significantly over coming decades, leaving dams inoperable. With higher temperatures and loss of snow cover because of shorter winter, the melting of the glaciers will be faster.

A study, using annual rings of trees found that the temperatures are rising in the region and that the first decade of this century has been the warmest in the past 638 years (1376 to 2013).

A paper in Geophysical Research Letters shows that warming of 2° C would cause Bhutanese glaciers to shrink by two-thirds and glacier meltwater to decrease by 90%.

Bhutan’s Director-General of Mines and Geology, has said that his teams working in the mountains are seeing some glaciers retreat as much as 100 feet a year. He predicts that snowfall would decrease and more of the precipitation would be in the form of rain which would run off. While reservoirs being built by projects can store some water, they come at a huge environmental cost as opposed to uphill forests and wetlands which store more water in a sustainable manner.

Bhutan’s hydropower industry needs to account for climate change effects to avoid future losses while it is expanding its hydropower infrastructure. The melting glaciers along with periods of prolonged heavy rainfall can also lead to floods, erosion and landslides. The deforestation for the hydropower projects and its paraphernalia, the damming, blasting, tunneling and muck dumping all can increase the disaster potential of the hills. Climate change has increased occurrences of extreme weather events such as intensely heavy rainfall. The impacts of construction and operation of hydropower projects can cause disasters if there is such huge increase in the volume of river flow.

Muck entering the Punatsangchu river 1114

But, according to Yeshi Wangdi, director-general of Bhutan’s department of energy, the government wants to develop hydropower schemes urgently before the climate change effects kick in so that all the revenue would have been reaped before the rivers run dry. On closer analysis, it seems that the constructing a slew of hydropower projects could speed the country’s approach to environmental disasters and cause losses that could far exceed the revenues from hydropower. There are lessons here from what happened in Uttarakhand in June 2013.

Another matter of grave concern is that Bhutan sits on an active fault line that also caused the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April 2015. There is risk of large earthquakes in the region even in future. The disaster management department told the Bhutanese media following the Nepal earthquake that Bhutan is unprepared to face earthquakes. The dams constructed for hydropower accumulate large volume of water increasing the earthquake risk.

The receding glaciers leave glacial lakes behind them which are highly susceptible to overflow events called GLOF (glacial lake outburst flood) often caused by rains, earthquakes, erosion or increase in the volume of water by inflow as happened with the Lemthang Tso.

The Lemthang tsho (lake) at the source of the Mochu River burst on June 28, 2015 evening in Laya emptying all its water into the Mochu. Flash floods in the river washed away six wooden bridges, livestock, caused 3 major landslides downstream and affected land and trails. The Punatsangchu project being on the course of the water was also under risk. The burst was triggered by the interconnecting of 2 ponds on the glacier above the lake causing sudden drainage from the ponds. The increased water discharge eroded and widened the lake’s outlet causing the outburst. Such increased volume of flow can also result from heavy rains or earthquakes which were initially suspected as likely triggers by experts in Bhutan. The gushing water, in such flood situations can cause dams to burst and have catastrophic results.

Steps have been taken by the Bhutanese government to prevent loss of lives from such floods. Flood siren systems are installed along rivers alert when the water level goes up. Warning sirens connected through a satellite system are activated along the river valley alerting the people downstream to evacuate and get to higher ground. There may be some lessons here for other Himalayan countries similarly at risk due to GLOFs.

Map showing the Early Warning System sites along Punakha
Map showing the Early Warning System sites along Punakha

Environmental damage: The construction of hydropower projects is damaging the pristine environment of Bhutan. Thick clouds of dust from the heavy construction at various hydropower projects have covered several Bhutanese towns. The projects are touted as being environment friendly as they are supposed to be run of the river projects, but that is more like propaganda. In reality, each ROR large hydro also involves large dams and also tunnels and drying up of downstream rivers, besides many other impacts. The blasting required for dams and underground tunnels have caused landslides, damaged the forests and dried up underground springs. The rivers are diverted through tunnels disrupting the lives of humans, animals and aquatic species who depend on the river water for many of their needs[6]. The habitats of the endangered white bellied heron and golden mahseer, a rare species of Himalayan carp have been destroyed by the construction of these projects.

Save while bellied heron Board along Punatsangchu Projects 1114

There was a major landslide at the under construction Mangdechu hydropower project on Aug 14, 2015 killing five Indian workers and risking many other lives. The project involves construction of a 56 metre high concrete dam. Recovery works were impeded by repeated slides and sliding debris and the bodies of the workers could not be unearthed for over 3 days.

Project officials and newspaper reports called the slide natural. The Economic affairs minister said that there would be an investigation of the incident so that “important lessons are learnt”. However he had not planned for any action to be taken if the disaster had been caused by negligence, as per the reports.

It seems that this was, in fact, a case of negligence. On July 15, 2015, four weeks before the fatal accident, the work at the site was stopped after a landslide at the dam pit. Reinforcement work was done on the slide area even then but it turned out ineffective. It is questionable why work was being carried out during rains when the area was prone to landslides and why the dam was being constructed at a geologically unstable site. The five Indian workers who were trapped in the dam pit were employed by the contractor of the project, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd. of India which has a poor track record for respecting worker rights.

P2 Board 1114

The projects also dump the debris from the construction into the river. Riverbeds have been destabilized by sand mining along the rivers which supplies building material for the construction industry.

Improper planning: It seems there has also been no systematic planning in undertaking the numerous hydropower projects. The construction of hydropower projects is coming at the cost of damage to the high revenue earning tourism sector and to the agriculture sector which is the largest employer of Bhutanese people. Proposed projects such as the 2,560 MW Sankosh dam which is going to be, if it comes through, among the five tallest dams in the world, might flood agricultural land and important religious sites. The dumping of debris into rivers from dam building has clogged channels and ruined paddy lands.

The hydropower initiative supported by India and financial institutions like ADB and other foreign players will dam almost all of the big river systems in the country. Institutions like ADB are so enthusiastic about pushing hydropower in Bhutan that they see Bhutan’s strong environmental conservation practices as ‘hurdles’ in this development. ADB says: “Bhutan’s strong environmental conservation policies have affected the pace of implementing power projects because of the time required to complete procedures such as environmental impact assessments, public consultations, forestry clearances, and road planning.”

WWF’s Living Himalayas Initiative said that there are no cumulative impact assessments to identify the best and avoid riskiest places to build hydropower. Assam had suffered flood losses mainly in 2004 when the 60 MW Kurichhu Project, built by NHPC in Bhutan, released flood waters which reached Indian territory. Same fears are now expressed for Mangdechu and Konglongchu projects. In 2014, when Indian PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation of 600 MW Kholongchu hydropower project, which is located in the Manas river basin in Bhutan, it triggered protests by different organizations in Assam, including the Chief Minister.

Transparency: Environment activists, conservationists, student leaders on Feb 17, 2015 raised concern over the lack of authentic information in the public domain on the current state of existing and proposed hydropower projects in Bhutan being built with the assistance of Government of India and their possible downstream cumulative impact on Assam and West Bengal. As India is extending knowhow and finance to execute these projects, India should ensure that environmental clearance is done taking into consideration the downstream impacts of the projects on Assam and northern West Bengal and the Indian ministry of environment and forests should be engaged in the process. But the Indian government appears unconcerned – on July 30, 2015, India’s Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said in the Lok Sabha that hydro electric projects in Bhutan under construction or under planning stage are run of the river type with “very little” storage to meet the peaking power generation requirements and no adverse impact is expected from these projects in the downstream reaches.

International Rivers alleged that neither government had put the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports in the public domain and concerned authorities in both the governments declined to share them. Environment activists have alleged that Royal Bhutan Government was yet to respond to UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s request, made in 2012, for information, including the EIA report, on the 720 MW Mangdechhu hydropower project under construction and the cumulative impact on Royal Manas National park in Bhutan and Manas National Park in Assam. From the little bit of information trickling down through the thick barriers put by the authorities concerned, it appears that 70 potential sites have been identified by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) of India and every river in Bhutan is proposed to be dammed.

The tradition of open criticism is lacking in Bhutanese society, reports suggest. Many NGOs have yet to raise questions and environment conservation doesn’t feature on party manifestos.

Environmentalist Yeshey Dorji said that the project affected community is misled with promises of roads, schools, hospitals, and electricity on construction of hydropower projects but these promises have not been delivered on in earlier projects as they are not provided for in the mandate of the project.

The government’s move to construct more projects and going deeper in debt while the under construction projects are doddering towards completion, has come under criticism. By and large it is agreed that large dams have not benefited local communities.

Government’s approach: The government’s response has mostly been that the increasing debts are no cause to worry, as the hydropower loans are “self-liquidating”. The PM of Bhutan has said that the economic opportunities and benefits outweigh the environmental impacts of hydropower projects. He was responding to a petition to have at least one of Bhutan’s major river systems, the Chamkharchu, without a dam. The PM said that the revenue would go to providing free education and health care and benefiting the economy.  He said that the environmental impact of the project would be minimal as it is a run off the river project. He also disapproved that there are issues of climate change saying that sale of power to India, from every hydropower project will offset millions of tons of greenhouse gasses that would otherwise be emitted in India.

The PM said that the government has to abide by its agreement with India to increase power generation to 10,000 MW by 2020. The way current projects are being carried out is based on earlier agreements, which the government has to abide by. The government blames the past government for getting into lopsided agreements on hydropower projects. The PM assured that his government had worked diligently to ensure that the subsequent ventures that the two governments had signed are reasonable and benefit Bhutan.

On Sept 22, 2015, the economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk confirmed that the 10,000 MW target by 2020 was unachievable and that the target needed to be reviewed. Bhutan would harness only half the target, 5,000 MW of electricity, by 2021. The progress rate of hydropower projects has been poor. The government would henceforth proceed by opting for a project wise approach and take up possible hydropower projects, the minister said. He said that the impact of hydropower on the economy, profitability and feasibility need to be looked at and if required, the government might down scale the proposed projects.

The government hopes to provide jobs and build other sectors of the economy through expanding and selling hydropower. Some MPs have suggested that Bhutan’s DGPC and the Construction Development Corporation Ltd. be given opportunities to execute works at the projects to develop local expertise.

The government is concerned about not having a say in fixing the export tariff. The government is worried that involving too many private players with minimal ownership and authority with the government poses danger of not just losing revenue but also its pristine environment. It is keen to ensure that hydropower projects in future do not become concentrated in the hands of few business entities.

To address these concerns, the National Council instituted a committee to review the discrepancies and non-compliances in the hydropower development policy and programs, which presented its recommendations to the National Council on Nov 27, 2015.

The committee reported violations of provisions of the Land Act 2007 in the acquisition of private lands for public and national purposes. The property valuation rates have not been revised and compensation to landowners has been unfair. Procedure and criteria for rehabilitation and resettlement need to be drawn up.

For enforcing local development coupled with hydropower development, the committee has recommended drawing up of a framework for the use of local development plan fund incorporating consultative procedure with the local development committee. It also pointed out that the system of social impact assessment is lacking.

The committee suggested that the national employment policies and laws be better enforced specially because of the dire situation of unemployment in the country.

The committee called for proper costing in the Detailed Project Reports (DPR) by accounting for the time gap between the preparation and commencement of projects. More time and resources should be invested in carrying out pre feasibility studies and DPRs to avoid geological surprises at later stages. A third party should carry out DPR preparation and techno-economic vetting and accountability should be fixed on those who develop them. The committee recommended giving preference to local consulting firms in the preparation of DPRs and strengthening the DGPC to build local capacity in developing future hydropower projects.

It also recommended that anything outside of a clear policy or law should need the support of Parliament before acted upon.

On Nov 30, 2015, the National Council agreed to the recommendations of the committee. The National Assembly is expected to amend the Bhutan Electricity Act 2001, Bhutan Sustainable Hydropower Development Policy (BSHDP) 2008 and related policies soon.

The recommendations, if well implemented, would check cost escalations and bring some benefit to the locals from hydropower construction. The government also needs to make the entire process involved in implementing hydropower projects more transparent and make the agencies involved in the projects accountable to the people. The EIA, SIA and Cumulative Impact Assessments need to done properly, transparently and in a participatory and accountable way.

Bhutan needs to make a comprehensive assessment of the need, benefit, options and impact of hydropower development. It should learn from its past experience with financing partners, geological surprises, cost overruns in hydropower development, problems in negotiating sales of generated electricity, environmental destruction, impact on agriculture and tourism. It should avoid over dependence on one sector and explore other options that will allow the preservation of its sovereignty, its rich ecological heritage while also improving the life quality of its citizens, creating jobs and protecting interests of local businesses and industries. It should also consider micro hydro and solar power as options for local access to electricity.

Anuradha (, SANDRP

Mahseer in Bhutan's Rivers. Photo with thanks from:
Mahseer in Bhutan’s Rivers. Photo with thanks from:


[1] See:

[2] The Government of India has been reluctant to make the funds available for this project. (

[3] The Government of India has expressed concerns that have held the project up. Media reports allude to security fears given that the dam is situated in close proximity to both the China and India border. (

[4] However, this along with the Amochhu and Sankosh HEP has been stalled due to India’s disinclination to fund the projects. Interestingly, all three schemes are reservoir based storage projects, which will have a significant impact on the quantity, quality, velocity and timing of river water, sediment and biota flow downstream in to India. (

[5] For details about how the profile of Bhutan’s power exports to India is changing, see:

[6] For an account of how the fish ladder at the Kurichu Hydropower project is not functioning, see:

3 thoughts on “Bhutan Hydropower Developments in 2015

  1. It is nice to see that the SANDRP has initiatied conserving the annual hydro/dam developments of different admn. boundaries.

    Hope, the all will finally took shape of an valuable YEAR BOOK.

    Regards to SANDRP TEAM



  2. An insightful blog, thank you for sharing your opinion and having done detail research on the impact of hydro power dam constructions on economic, social and environment in Bhutan. I agree with the author on many important issues and challenges which we confront with the hydro power project development.


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