Sandvik rigs cut Himalayan tunnels

Nine Sandvik underground drilling rigs and rock drills are being used to cut tunnels through the Himalayan foothills for India's Parbati Hydroelectric Project (Stage III).

NEWS, Projects

Nine Sandvik underground drilling rigs and rock drills are being used to cut tunnels through the Himalayan foothills for India's Parbati Hydroelectric Project (Stage III).

The civil teams of Jager-Gammon India and Larsen & Toubro-Patel are carrying out the work.

Jager-Gammon is using four Sandvik Axera T08-290 rigs and an Axera T08S-290C, while Larsen & Toubro-Patel has four Axera T08-290 rigs. The machines are equipped with Sandvik drill tools.

The project is located on the Parbati River, a tributary of the Beas River in Himachal Pradesh, and is being undertaken by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in conjunction with the Himachal Pradesh Government.

Stage III is based at Kullu, a district famous for its terraced agricultural fields and mountain scenery, and a popular destination for Indian and international tourists. It is being built at a cost of approximately US $562 million (INR23.04 billion), with budgetary support from the national government and from other financial institutions arranged by the NHPC.

Located on the Sainj River, another tributary of the Beas, Stage III is downstream of the Stage II powerhouse and will utilise regulated discharge from the earlier phase along with inflow from the Sainj. There is a 43m-high rockfill dam that will receive water from the tailrace of Stage II, and after power generation in its own tailrace and powerhouse, Stage III will carry the water back to the Sainj. Consequently, no major diversion of the river is needed.

The work involves cutting a 7.98km-long headrace tunnel of 7.25m diameter, a 13m diameter, 113.75m-high surge shaft, a 2.7km long tailrace tunnel, and two pressure shafts, one of them 375m and the other 345m, bifurcating into four 3m diameter penstocks. The underground powerhouse will be 123m in length, 22m in width and 44m high and will be equipped with four 130MW capacity generating units.

Rajendra Singh, senior project manager, Jager-Gammon said the teams are running to a 56-month schedule and their contract is due for completion in the second half of 2010. He said that at the end of April this year, 8% of the excavation work had been completed by Jager-Gammon.

"Up to this period, we had drilled approximately 221,000 drill metres, using mainly 45mm hole diameter on the face drilling, and 38mm hole diameters for the rockbolt drilling," said Singh.

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