The construction of the 102MW Middle Bhote Kosi project, which is a subsidiary of Chilime Hydropower Company, has hit a roadblock after protests from the owners of The Borderlands Resort. They argue that building a hydropower plant on Bhote Kosi will destroy the adventure tourism industry. The resort has even managed to pit locals against one another.
Borderlands earns Rs 10.2 million annually, while the yearly tax Chilime will pay to the state is likely to exceed Rs 1 billion. Furthermore, the 842 million units of electricity would boost development, generate employment for locals, and help those who have been displaced or affected by the plant. However, the resort owners claim that the power-station will be able to produce only 52MW and construction would be too expensive since the plant will have to be built underground.
If the plant is built at the proposed site, the water level of the Bhote Kosi would drop and Boderlands is fearful this will harm tourism and their revenue will decline. But there are plenty of rafting sites further downstream. The 12km stretch from Lamosanghu to Balephi and Balephi to Dolalghat and the Sun Kosi-Chatara area are perfect for water sports in the dry season.
While neighbours, India and China post impressive double-digit growth rates, the decade long war has stunted Nepal's development. And with the country reeling from acute power shortage, the need for hydropower plants cannot be stressed enough. If this project gets aborted, we risk losing Rs 30 rupees for every unit of electricity that is not produced. We cannot let the vested interests of some private companies jeopardise the nation's progress.