Navin Shakya

Navin Shakya

Lower Apsuwa, Sankhuwasabha

Lower Apsuwa hydropower project, with a 54 MW capacity, is a run-of-river initiative situated in the Sankhuwasabha district of eastern Nepal. It’s a high head scheme, notable for its relatively compact structures compared to other projects with similar output. The development includes traditional surface headworks, a shorter water conveyance system, surface penstock paths, and a surface powerhouse complex.

Located about 50 km north of the district capital, Khandbari, it sits across from the Arun-3 powerhouse site, one of Nepal’s largest hydropower constructions in progress. The closest airport to the site is Tumlingtar Airport, roughly 15 km from Khandbari, serving as a vital connection for Sankhuwasabha, neighbouring districts, and several under-construction hydropower projects, especially given the poor road conditions. The Koshi Highway, linking Khandbari to southern Terai cities and China, is currently in a state of disrepair.

Condition of road when it rains

The project’s power evacuation is set to be supported by the upcoming Sitalpati Substation, which will link to the Tumlingtar Substation and the Koshi Corridor transmission line.

Water is sourced from the Apsuwa river and returned to the Arun River, necessitating the water conveyance system to traverse a ridge. Currently, the access road to the intake site is being constructed. The challenging trail connecting the powerhouse to the headworks begins at an elevation of around 630 m, climbs to 2100 m, and then descends to 1200 m. This trek becomes particularly arduous during the rainy season due to the presence of leeches.

Pukhuwa, the nearest settlement and marketplace, will soon be connected to the Arun-3 powerhouse area by a bridge under construction. The local economy thrives on the cultivation of Black Cardamom and Rudraksha, along with millet and rice farming. NTC provides voice and data services in the region, and a daily bus route from Pukhuwa to Khandbari has recently commenced.