●Kholongchhu Hydropower Project
•It is one of four additional projects agreed in 2008, as a part of India’s commitment to help Bhutan to create a total 10,000 MW of installed capacity by 2020.
•This 600 MW run-of-the-river project is located on the lower course of the Kholongchhu river in eastern Bhutan’s Trashiyangtse district.
•The project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2025.
•The project will be constructed as a 50:50 joint venture.
•Being a member of BIMSTEC, Bhutan holds geostrategic importance for India. [The shared sense of support and help in terms of such development projects between the two countries can help India in executing its Act East-Look East Policy.]
•The project which started in 2014 was on halt since December 2016 over India’s new power tariff guidelines on Cross Border
•The project would act as a milestone in generation of energy and related trade.
•The project would aid in a clean and stabilising power source for India and also contribute to its renewable energy targets.
•Commencement of construction activities of the project will create economic and employment opportunities in Bhutan.
India needs to focus on the youth of Bhutan, as it is the youth only, which would take the people-to-people contact forward in the future.
•The plant would drive economic growth and hence socio-economic development would be facilitated in Bhutan.
•Trade of Electricity – CBTE, until the government amended its guidelines after negotiations with the Bhutan government.
Power tariff revision which includes the increase in the operations and maintenance charges may become a bone of contention.
•Both India and Bhutan have emphasised the importance of “hydro-power development” as one of the most important areas of mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.
•Kholongchhu is a continuation of bilateral cooperation which epitomises the core of the friendship for a greater good.
However, the delay in the implementation of the project has led to cost escalation and missed opportunities in terms of immediate benefits to the community. •Therefore, all the details of a project should be thoroughly worked out before the construction commences.