The excavation of the various tunnels that comprise the Project has been slower than anticipated due to the poor quality of rocks encountered. The Project is now scheduled to be fully commissioned by 30 September 2013, instead of the original scheduled date of March 2012. The Bank loan has been accordingly restructured to extend the closing date of the World Bank loan from March 31, 2013 to December 31, 2014.
Physical Construction Work
The Project is very advanced and no major issue is anticipated that could severely affect the current schedule to commission the last unit by September 2013.
In order to deal with the delays induced by poor geology, SJVNL and its contractors had devised a comprehensive Tunnel Acceleration Plan in consultation with a panel of international experts. The implementation of this Plan continues to show excellent results and the tunnel excavation is almost complete. About 14.9 km (or 98% of total length) of the total Head Race Tunnel (HRT) of 15.18 km has been excavated. Of this, about 11 km (or 72.5 percent of the total length) has also been benched (that is, the lower face of the tunnel has also been excavated) and 4.65 km (or 30 percent of total length) has been lined with concrete as well. The completion of HRT excavation is currently scheduled by August 2012, completion of benching by October 2012, and completion of lining by March 2013.
Power House – Civil Works:
Erection of reinforced concrete structure has progressed to such an extent that the stability of the temporary slopes is no longer a concern. All draft tubes have been installed, one turbine spiral case has been pressure tested and embedded in concrete.
The power house is at the base of extensive cut slopes where some localized instability phenomena have taken place. SJVNL has started a slope stability study to minimize the long term risk of further instabilities. The study has already identified areas of interventions and detailed design of rock reinforcement is being prepared. Drainage measures have been built. Instrumentation has been installed and is being regularly monitored.
Lining has been carried out upto 129.5 m (out of 149.5 m) and the work is expected to be completed by July 2012.
Supply of different items has picked pace and SJVNL has also prepared the micro schedule for the supply of various equipment and materials. The planning exercise needs to be completed for the erection activity also for close monitoring of the activities to ensure that the activities of civil and electro-mechanical contractor are coordinated and the project implementation progresses as per the revised schedule.
Land Acquisition and Resettlement & Rehabilitation:
The land acquisition and resettlement process is almost fully implemented with 99.5% of 208 families having received all entitlements. The issue of payment of cash in lieu of providing alternative house to three of the four remaining displaced families was settled in January 2012. With this, 18 out of 19 displaced families have received their full entitlements toward resettlement. The last family has refused to accept the cash amount and filed a case in court.
Local Area Development:
As part of its attempt to improve the quality of lives of the people living in the Rampur project’s vicinity, SJVNL had launched an intensive local area development scheme. Small community infrastructure facilities -- like footbridges and footpaths, street lighting and drinking water supply -- have been completed in various villages. The Company has also provided financial grants for the construction of a bus-station and a senior secondary school in the Rampur area.
In 2009-10, the Government of Himachal Pradesh decided to take over the implementation of community development activities across the state. SJVNL is accordingly providing the funds to Local Area Development Authority (LADA) for various works identified by the communities. SJVNL has so far spent Rs. 189.30 million for developing small village infrastructure works in project-affected villages in the Shimla and Kullu districts. There has been delay in holding of meetings of LADA by the local administration, as a result the implementation of works was noticed to have slowed down especially in Kullu district. These delays were brought to the attention of the local administration and the State Government for corrective action.
Drinking Water Supply for project-affected villages
SJVNL had also undertaken to get two major drinking water works in the project-affected area implemented in collaboration with the state government. One is a Rs 74.8 million-multi-panchayat scheme that would augment drinking water; SJVNL was to provide part financing for this. SJVNL has already deposited Rs 40 million with the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department and the foundation stone of the scheme was laid by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh in November 2011. The IPH Department has indicated that the procurement of materials has been completed and work will begin shortly. IPH Department has to arrange balance funding for the works. The understanding with the IPH Department is that the work will be completed by December 2013.
The other was a scheme to install four bore-wells and seven hand pumps at various sites in the project area. Although SJVNL has already made the funds available for these schemes, three bore wells and two hand pumps are yet to be completed. SJVNL is in regular touch with the IPH department to get these functional as soon as possible so that local villagers can get access to safe and reliable drinking water.
Training and Scholarships for Students:
So far, 195 students from project-affected villages, including 31 girls, have been sponsored for technical education in local ITIs. Of these, 141 candidates (or 72%) including 25 girls have successfully completed their course. Of those students who did complete the course, 63 (44%) are now employed with the contractors constructing the Rampur project.
In addition, more than 50 students have been awarded merit scholarships. In view of the limited response to technical education courses, SJVN has launched a new Apprentice program that entails on-the-job training. Some 31 candidates have been inducted since January 2012 when the program was initiated. They will receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 8000 (for Diploma trained) and Rs. 5000 (for ITI trained) respectively.
SJVNL has also opened a medical dispensary in village Bayal, the site of the proposed powerhouse; about 23,720 people from the project area have accessed the medical services there. The company is also financing a mobile health van since 2006 that does the rounds of the eight project-affected villages, taking basic healthcare to the people’s doorstep. Till date more than 48,900 persons have availed of the services of this mobile health van.
While SJVNL has shown improvement in implementing the gaps in the environment management plan (EMP) identified during earlier visits, the acceleration of the pace of physical construction highlighted some additional inadequacies, especially in the area of muck disposal and management at some sites, and the management of the construction sites.
SJVNL had been taking measures for disposing off the debris generated by the construction activities during excavation. Designated dumping sites have been identified in consultation with the state Pollution Control Board and have been duly equipped with proper retaining structures to ensure that the ‘muck’ does not make its way to the river. Whenever retaining wall is damaged (by rain or in other ways), SJVNL has been taking necessary repairs as soon as possible. In addition, as per the original plan, once the dumping site has been filled to capacity, SJVNL plans to further stabilize it through bio-remedial works. Such site-remediation is already underway in small patches and is being gradually expanded to cover other dumping areas.
However, gaps were observed in muck management at site during the latest visit. The gaps include contractors having deposited muck on non-designated sites (including on privately-owned land at the request of the land owner), leveling of the muck pile being not done in a timely manner, dumping at two sites without adhering to agreed practices. The Bank team has discussed immediate remedial steps which SJVN will be putting into place.
Labour camps: The inadequate management of two of the labour camps at construction site was raised as a concern to SJVNL. The camp sites did not have adequate arrangements for shelter and other amenities. The Bank team has agreed on a plan with SJVNL and the contractors to address these gaps on a priority basis with regular monitoring.
Specific corrective actions were discussed with the senior management of SJVNL to address the gaps noticed and an action plan has been agreed to address these gaps. The Bank team will be undertaking more frequent visits to project to monitor the implementation of the EMP, the action plan and to support SJVNL in implementing Rampur project in a sustainable manner.