Power cables to be laid underground in central Kathamandu

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - The project seeks to meet the growing energy demand in the valley and increase reliability of distribution network.

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility, has geared up to install underground power cables in the central part of the Kathmandu Valley.

The power utility has invited interested parties to submit bid documents for installation of underground cables in locations like Ratnapark, Maitighar, Thapathali, Chabahil and Thamel, among others, where roads are wide.

“Laying underground cable is a costly affair. Hence, we will install them only in major thoroughfares of the city,” said Manoj Silwal, chief of the Project Management Directorate at NEA.  

NEA has decided to lay underground electricity cables and remove overhead lines in a bid to improve the distribution system. This is a component of the $180-million Power Transmission and Distribution Efficiency Enhancement Project (PTDEEP) funded by the Nepal government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The project seeks to meet the growing energy demand in the Valley and increase the capacity and reliability of distribution network by automating the network, laying underground cables, using insulated cables for overhead lines and installing smart meters. Out of the $180 million, the ADB will provide $150 million in soft loan and the Nepal government will contribute the rest.

According to a notice issued by NEA, international competitive bidding will be conducted to choose the contractor to lay cables under the ground. The bidding will be carried out in accordance with the ADB’s ‘single stage two-envelope bidding procedure’ wherein interested parties have to submit technical and financial bids in two envelopes.

The technical bids will be opened on October 6 in the presence of the bidders’ representatives, while financial bids will remain sealed and unopened and kept in a locked box.

NEA will open financial bids of only those who are technically qualified. Financial bid documents of technically unqualified bidders will be returned unopened after the contract is awarded to the technically qualified lowest bidder.

NEA will resort to horizontal erection gridding system to lay underground cables as this will cause less damage to roads. This system allows power lines to be laid over a distance of 100 metres by drilling a pit at one place.

“We are also aware that road traffic shouldn’t be disturbed by our work. Therefore, we will immediately black-top it after the cables are laid,” said Silwal.

The major reason behind the plan to remove existing overhead lines and install underground cables is to increase the reliability of the distribution system, according to NEA. The power utility’s existing distribution system is very fragile, resulting in abrupt power cuts despite adequate supply.

The Valley’s existing distribution network can’t support a load of more than 400 MW. The NEA is planning to upgrade the system to support power load of up to 2,000 MW.

NEA has already invited interested parties to replace the overhead electric wires in the vicinity of Maharajgunj with underground cables. Apart from laying underground power cables, NEA is also preparing to build six substations at Barabishe, Lapsifedi, Chapagaun, Phutung, Mulpani and Chagunarayan to enhance load-bearing capacity of electricity distribution system in the Valley.

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  • Power cablesto be laid underground in central Ktm

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