In September 2012, the Infrastructure SBU of Essar Projects Limited (EPL) won its first contract in north-east India — the construction of an earth-fill dam and concrete spillway for the Tuirial hydro power project developed by the North Eastern Power Corporation in Mirzoram.
The scope of work included constructing the pre-cofferdam, downstream cofferdam, upstream dam and the main dam. The main dam will be 250m in length and 75m high, and involves filling of 3 million cubic meters of earth and rock. The concrete spillway would also have to be constructed with 180,000 cubic meters of excavation and 92,000 cubic meters of concrete.
The EPL team faced several challenges even before the project began. Logistics was the main one since the project is situated at a remote location in Mizoram. The nearest city is Silchar in Assam, about 80km away. When the EPL team went to the project site, there was no proper road and mobilization of construction equipment was a tough task. Most of the earthmoving equipment were unloaded 40km away and driven to the site since no trailer could reach there.
As with all hydro power projects, the Tuirial one also threw up several geological surprises. Mizoram’s geology is unpredictable and the nature of strata found within a small distance varies drastically. The first quarry earmarked did not have the quality of rock required for construction, so an alternate one was found seven kilometers from the project site.
The site also suffered from low connectivity — network often failed for two to three days. EPL resolved the problem by establishing its own satellite communication facility to connect with its team at the project site.
In addition, the team adopted several practices that the locals followed. All buildings including the staff and operators’ quarters were constructed with locally available materials such as wood. Bamboo mats were also used as wall panels after plastering, similar to what the Hmar tribals of Mizoram do in their houses. The only source of water at the project site was the Tuirial river which is turbid during the monsoon. Learning from the locals, the EPL team began harvesting rainwater to meet the site’s requirements.
Despite these drawbacks, the planning and procurement team ensured it
arranged for the required materials, consumables and spares without
affecting the progress of work.
The Tuirial river was diverted in November 2012 and the pre-cofferdam and downstream cofferdam were completed in December. Construction on the upstream dam (which protects the main dam) also began simultaneously.
The Tuirial project has given EPL the opportunity to establish its presence in the north-east. Its first hydro power project at Pallivasal in Kerala in south India is already well underway. Even as the EPL team works hard to ensure completion of the Tuirial project by May 2015, it has already bagged the contract for execution of civil work of the 300 MW Panan hydro power project in Sikkim. This will mark EPL’s entry into the large hydro power project segment. With so many prestigious assignments, EPL has been steadily working towards successfully completing these and building its track record.