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Green light to West Seti

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

nt6003A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources on Sunday approved the West Seti hydro project and gave it the green light.

Investigations carried out by the committee found that the MoU was signed without informing the Finance Ministry and that the Energy Ministry had  hurriedly pushed through the deal with CTGC  without a proper bidding process.  Furthermore,  the Nepal Investment Board (NIB) was excluded from the entire operation.

After these findings were made public, the committee instructed the Energy Ministry to make amendments in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) before moving ahead with the project.  The government has also been given 13-point recommendation to fix  procedural errors.

One such recommendation is to include NIB in the project.  The board  which was formed a year ago, has an act which states that hydro projects of 500MW and above have to be executed through the board. The government will now have to cooperate with NIB and work alongside it.

The state has also been asked to work out on details regarding the issue of transmission lines, compensation and resettlement of the displaced from the project site.

“The sub-committee report was endorsed unanimously in today’s meeting,” said Dharma Raj BK, a committee member and  CA member from the project site in Bajura. “Our suggestions to the government is aimed at making the project more suitable for the country. The project is a must for the country and for the first time there is a political consensus on how to carry it forward. And this time, we have a reliable investor too.”

When the committee  asked the government to put the project on hold on 9 March, the CTGC had written to the Energy Ministry, expressing its disappointment at the ‘unnecessary media-mongering’ and cautioned the ministry that it might pull out if the government did not put an end to the speculations.

The locals from the project site were most concerned after the investor’s letter. They organised protest programs and warned their CA members not to politicise the issue. The committee members were labelled ‘anti-development’. Political parties, especially the UML who played major role in driving away investors of Arun III, did not want to take any chance. The committee members mellowed down and instead came up with suggestions to make it a multi-purpose project, so that the country can reap maximum benefits.

The reservoir project will be built for domestic consumption under Private Public Partnership model for a period of 35 years, in which NEA will have 25 per cent share, general public and domestic organisations working in the energy sector will have 14 per cent and CTGC will have 51 per cent. Earlier, CTGC had 75 per cent equity while NEA would get 25 per cent and the public would gain only 2-5 per cent equity out of CTGC’s  share.

The committee has told the government to make the project a priority and complete it by 2019.

Dewan Rai

Follow the story

Deal again, 29 March
The power of politics, 27 March
Three Gorges threatens to pull out, 19 March

About time, #595, DEWAN RAI

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