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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NT2 hydropower plant progress assessed

The Nam Theun 2 (NT2) hydropower project in Khammuan province is continuing to manage social and environmental impacts as construction progresses.
Work on the dam began in 2005 and, based on a 5-year timeline, is on schedule while the social and environmental programmes that are based on a longer timeline of up to 12 years are continuing to make progress.
“Currently the project is about 70 percent complete,” said the Director General of the Energy Promotion and Development Department, Mr Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha.
He was speaking on Friday during an interview at the World Bank (WB) briefing on the NT2 semi-annual update at the bank's office in Vientiane, with a video link to Bangkok, Thailand.
Work completed to date includes the resettlement of villagers, construction of the main dam, excavations and the powerhouse.
“We are now waiting for the installation of the machinery,” Mr Xaypaseuth said.
The project is currently installing a 500kV transmission line, 135km long, from the powerhouse to Savannakhet province.
“This installation will be finished by the end of next year,” Mr Xaypaseuth said.
According to the joint WB and Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, significant progress has been made in ensuring the proper resettlement of 6,200 villagers from 17 villages who have had to move from the area that will eventually be the reservoir on the Nakai Plateau.
A third of the new houses are complete, with new roads, water pumps, toilets, schools and electricity all in place. Construction of the remaining houses and facilities is well advanced and expected to be completed by May 2008.
About 200 villagers already have electricity in their homes for the first time, as well as new, all-weather roads that connect them to towns and villages nearby.
“The full relocation process will be completed before impoundment can begin in August,” Mr Xaypaseuth said.
Villagers being resettled are also in the process of developing new livelihoods with a focus on agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing. Activities include rice farming, seasonal crops, fruit trees, pig and frog raising, livestock, forest products and subsistence fishing in the future reservoir.
People who used to make US$410 per household a year in 2005, will be making at least US$820 per household a year by 2012, he predicted.
The semi-annual update is a joint report by the WB and ADB on the implementation of the hydropower project. The objective of the briefing was to share the assessment of the World Bank and ADB on the progress, issues and activities of the project with the government, donors, NGOs and the public.
The next joint WB/ADB report is expected to be issued ahead of reservoir impoundment in June 2008.
The project is an investment of more than 11.8 trillion kip (US$1.2 billion) and will have an installed capacity of 1,070MW with six generators for local supply and export.
The hydropower plant is a joint venture between the Lao government, which holds 25 percent of shares, and foreign investors holding a 75 percent stake. The WB and the ADB are two of 27 financing parties.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay (Latest Update December 17, 2007)

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