The Agriculture and Water Resources Committee (AWRC) of the Parliament on Monday directed the government to immediately approve the proposal put forth by Ministry of Energy regarding the amount of shares to be allotted to locals residing in areas to be affected by the 900MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project.

    The Energy Ministry in August had presented the proposal to the Cabinet to provide shares worth Rs1.6 billion to locals from 27 percent free equity that the government is receiving from GMR India, the developer of the Upper Karnali. The Cabinet is yet to make any decision regarding the proposal. As per the Project Development Agreement (PDA) between IBN and India’s GMR-ITD Consortium, Nepal will get 27 percent free equity and 12 percent free electricity.

    “We have directed the government to immediately take the decision,” said Gagan Thapa, chairman of the parliamentary committee. “Such decision in favour of the locals and will help in easing possible disruption at the local level.”

    According to a source at the Investment Board Nepal (IBN), the shares of the project will be allotted to locals once the project is completed. “As the project is supposed to provide jobs to more than 2,000 locals of the area, they will be able to purchase the shares from their own earning,” said the IBN source. “Also, the government will come up with some mechanism enabling locals to purchase the allotted shares.”

    The project is targeted to be completed by 2021 at an estimated cost of Rs145 billion. It will be acquiring 48.85 hectares of private land and 207.75 hectares of government-owned land. It will affect an estimated 239 households.

    The developers had recently done a study on the possible impact of the project in the downstream area. It was submitted to the Department of Irrigation (DOI). Officials at the department, however, refused to share the finding of the report. “We got that report a few days back and are yet to study it,” said Rama Nanda Yadav, director general of DOI. “We will share the findings only after studying it thoroughly.”

    Thapa said that his committee will soon call officials from the DOI to discuss about the impact of the project on the downstream and will give directions accordingly.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post