12-18 December 2014 #736

Rs 6.3 billion extortion

Bikash Thapa in Annapurna Post, 5 December

The main political parties in Sindhupalchok have, through their local leaders, asked for Rs 6.3 billion worth of shares for free from Upper Bhote Kosi Hydropower Project whose main investors are Nepalis. In order to force the project to agree to gift them the shares, the parties have obstructed the repairs of four transmission pylons of the 45MW Bhote Kosi plant that were destroyed in the Jure landslide in August.

The parties are demanding 35 per cent share in the new project which would be worth Rs 7 billion in the share market, but for which the company gets only Rs 700 million at Rs 100 per share. Bhote Kosi Hydropower CEO Narendra Prajapati said: “We are willing to give 5 per cent to the locals but they want to get rich overnight by buying shares worth Rs 7 billion at Rs 700 million.”

Since electricity could not be generated for 144 days since the landslide, the project  has already suffered a loss of Rs 1.2 billion. FNCCI Chairman Pradeep Pandey says that the complete shutdown of the hydropower plant by the locals has portrayed Nepal as an investment unfriendly destination to potential foreign investors.

He says that the hydropower should be allowed to function uninterrupted in accordance to the agreements made with the government in the past. Consumers are having to face additional one and half hours of load shedding due to the delays in repairing the pylons. President of the UCPN (Maoist) for Sindhupalchok, Madhav Sapkota, claims that locals are protesting for their fair share of a local natural resource.

The Ministry of Energy has chosen to stay away from this debacle, citing it as a political matter. Secretary at the Ministry of Energy Rajendra Kishore Kshetri says he is not in a position to intervene on this matter, as members of the legislature parliament are also involved in the agitation.

Read also:

Maoists block Upper Marshyangdi, Dambar Krishna Shrestha

High and dry, Kunda Dixit

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