ADB requests to appoint consultant within a month

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    ” Dispute of Tanahu Hydropower Project

    KATHMANDU, Sept 25

    ADB-GatesThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) has urged for appointment of a consultant for the 140-MW Tanahu reservoir-based hydropower project within a month saying all the issues raised by the government have been included in assessment.

    Major lender ADB seven months ago had met top officials of the Energy Ministry, Finance Ministry and promoter Tanahu hydropower Limited and requested them to appoint the consultant by October end after the project did not move forward. The ADB is making loan investment of almost Rs 15 billion for the project. The ADB Mission has stated that its assessment has included all the issues raised by the government including that of sediment flushing. The dispute about appointment of consultant between the government and ADB has escalated after reassessment was done against agreement under supervision of the project in a way that will lead to a different result. This has affected the plan of promoter Tanahu to complete the project by the end of 2020. Arrangement of the necessary finance for the project has already been made.

    The ADB had invited bids and assessed the submitted bids after the government requested it do so. The ADB has selected a joint venture of Lahmeyer International (Germany) and Manitoba (Canada) on the basis of financial and technical offers from among the bidders as per its procurement guidelines. The promoter has already issued letter of intent to Lahmeyer and even held the first stage of dialogue. The ADB has clarified that reassessment has been done from independent sources on the issue raised in the complaint received at the anti-corruption and integrity division. It says similar result has arrived even after reevaluation.

    The ADB is expressing concern after the Energy Ministry raised questions about its evaluation and brought out different result through reassessment. It has already hinted about reviewing the decision of loan assistance and withdraw investment on the project should the ministry fail to create positive environment about reassessment. Agreeing on the reassessment done by the ministry on the basis of different criteria will deem the ADB’s evaluation wrong. The ADB has accused the government of trying to prove it incompetent by doing reassessment. The ADB already has written to the Finance Ministry some time back to express dissatisfaction with the reassessment. It has also requested the ministry to not delay the project. Implementation of the project has already been delayed by a year. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Investment Bank are also likely to not invest should the ADB decide to not invest on the project.

    Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat concedes that there has been dispute between the Energy Ministry and ADB on the issue of selection of consultant and states that it should be concluded amicably. He says the project should not be compromised in any pretext. Spokesperson at the Energy Ministry Joint Secretary Keshav Dhwaj Adhiakri says escalation of the dispute between the Energy Ministry and ADB has delayed appointment of consultant. He claims that efforts are being made to resolve the dispute, and reveals that the Energy Ministry has decided to send its assessment report to the Finance Ministry. Managing Director of promoter Tanahu Sunil Kumar Dhungel says they are waiting the decision of the higher authorities and work will be started immediately after receiving orders.

    An assessment committee formed under Joint Secretary Adhikari has completed study after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) directed to reassess supervision evaluation after a competing company field complaint with the anti-graft body in a way to affect the selection process after it looked set to not get the contract. The process of selecting consultant is continuing since 2012. The first bidding process was cancelled before the deadline to submit bids had expired after Kansai Electric Company Limited of Japan looked set to not get the contract.

    The government, in its policies and programs revealed recently, states that civil construction of the project will start in the current fiscal year. The project has already been delayed by two years and the recent delay is set to push it back by another year. The promoter earlier had aimed to complete contract agreement by January 21, 2014, send the consultant to work in February and start work by March, as per the amended working schedule. But this schedule has also been affected. The project was earlier scheduled to be completed by 2018 and was later rescheduled for 2020.

    Source : Karobar Daily