Arun-3 hydro stymied by ceiling on land acquisition


    SJVN Arun-3 Power Development Company, the developer of the 900 MW Arun-3 Hydropower Project, has not been able to acquire adequate land for the project as the Ministry of Land Reform and Management (MoLRM) has not lifted the land ceiling set for the company.

    The developer’s attempt to acquire around 1,000 ropanis of private land has been stymied as the acquisition of more than 75 ropanis requires the Cabinet’s approval. The power development company had applied to the MoLRM to lift the ceiling more than a month ago.

    However, delays by the ministry to obtain the Cabinet’s okay has stalled the land acquisition process. “Such bureaucratic delays are seriously affecting our work,” said Hari Ram Subedi, resident representative of SJVN. “This will ultimately push back the completion date of the project.” He added that once the land acquisition was done, the developer would immediately start the construction work.

    Local residents who will be displaced by the proposed Arun III hydropower project have agreed on a resettlement action plan proposed by the company and signed an agreement some three months ago, but bureaucratic delays have slowed the project’s progress.

    On February 25, a tripartite agreement was signed by Investment Board Nepal (IBN), SJVN and locals of Sankhuwasabha district where the project will be developed.

    The chief district officer was supposed to issue a land acquisition notice within two weeks after the resettlement agreement was signed. But, according to the existing Land Act, a company cannot acquire more than 75 ropanis of the land without the Cabinet’s go-ahead.

    The MoLRM said that it would be taking the issue to the Cabinet very soon. “We are planning to take the decision to the Cabinet within a week,” said Nagendra Jha, spokesperson for the ministry.

    In November 2014, the board and SJVN signed a project development agreement (PDA) for the Arun-3 hydropower project. As per the agreement, SJVN will complete the construction of the plant and start energy generation by 2020.

    According to IBN, Nepal will receive Rs348 billion over 25 years from the project. SJVN will provide 21.9 percent of the energy generated free of cost, which is worth Rs155 billion, plus another Rs107 billion in royalties.

    As per the PDA, the Indian company will allot shares worth Rs1.6 billion to locals, 50 percent of which will be issued within two years of the project’s launch. The rest of the shares will be issued at a later date at a premium.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post