ADB to step back from Sunkoshi 2 and 3

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    KATHMANDU, Oct 16

    ADB-GatesThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) is set to step back from Sunkoshi 2 and 3 reservoir based projects with combined installed capacity of 1,646 MW as the under construction BP Highway and Mid Hill Highway will be inundated by the projects. It has requested the government to provide a new reservoir based projects as an alternative.

    The ADB is stepping back after the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) requested the government to not move the projects forward stating that the reservoirs of the projects will inundate BP and Mid Hill highways and other surrounding highways. BP Highway is being constructed with JICA grant while the government is constructing Mid Hill Highway itself. The government had urged the ADB to develop these projects after the latter promised to construct a reservoir based project to resolve energy crisis of Nepal.

    Preliminary study has put installed capacity of Sunkoshi 2 at 1110 MW and that of Sunkoshi 3 at 536 MW. Though reservoirs of both the projects will be big they will not affect human settlements much. There can be some changes in the installed capacity after further studies. The two projects will inundate 35 kilometers of BP Highway and 25 kilometers of Mid Hill Highway apart from Dolalghat-Bahrabise and Khurkot-Manthali roads.

    Director General at the Department of Electricity Development Sanjay Sharma reveals that the ADB has informally requested to provide an alternative for Sunkoshi projects following the reservations of JICA. “The ADB has not said so in writing. But its officials have asked us to provide an alternative project in every meeting,” he says. Residential Representative of ADB in Nepal has also requested for an alternative, according to Sharma. “The budget of the last fiscal year was frozen after the ADB said it will study about both the projects with its own money. Budget was not allocated even in the current fiscal year and project work has been affected,” he adds. He says the Energy Ministry has even prepared necessary documents for appointment of consultants for feasibility study and environmental impact assessment, and claims that work has been stopped due to ADB even though works for feasibility study and environmental impact assessment had been started. “The ADB first was set to start feasibility study and environmental impact assessment. But it stepped back after JICA opposed the projects,” he states.

    Sharma says the government prepared to move the projects forward after the master plan for Koshi river basin prepared by JICA in 1985 showed both the projects to be financially attractive. “JICA first advised to move the projects forward by showing them to be attractive. It now says that the highways will be inundated,” he rues. He opines that the projects should be moved forward as they are reservoir based and also near the load center. He argues that the height of the proposed Koshi high dam can also be reduced after construction of these projects.

    Sunkoshi 2 will affect Sindhuli and Ramechhap districts and Sunkoshi 3 Kaver and Ramechhap. The study done by JICA shows that Sunkoshi 2 will generate 4.76 billion units of electricity a year and Sunkoshi 3 2.07 billion units. The dam of Sunkoshi 2 will be 166 meters high and that of Sunksohi 3 140 meters. The dams are to be constructed in Bhuwaneshowre VDC of Sindhuli and Thulo Parsel VDC of Kavre respectively.

    Source : Karobar Daily