Budget of Rs 13.50 b for transmission lines set to freeze

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    ” Energy Ministry seeks Rs 1 b for land acquisition, Finance Ministry gives Rs 13.50 b for twoers “

    KATHMANDU, Aug 19

    trlThe budget of Rs 13.50 billion allocated for construction of transmission lines is set to freeze despite the government bringing the budget for the current fiscal year putting energy on top priority.

    The budget is set to freeze after the Finance Ministry allocated budget for erecting towers though the Energy Ministry had demanded Rs 1 billion for land acquisition to construct transmission lines. The government has apportioned budget stating that construction of transmission lines will be forwarded as a campaign this year.  Secretary at the Energy Ministry Bishwo Prakash Pandit said that the situation has arisen due to lack of coordination between the two ministries. “We had asked for budget to complete land acquisition for the proposed transmission lines this year. But the Finance Ministry gave Rs 13.50 billion to erect towers. There is no way that this amount can be spent,” he added. “Adequate budget has been allocated for erecting towers but there is none for land acquisition. How can we erect towers without acquiring land?” he asked. He explained that towers can be erected only after completing land acquisition and revealed that the Energy Ministry plans to start erecting towers from the next year after completing land acquisition this year.

    The Energy Ministry has urged the Finance Ministry to provide Rs 1 billion to pay compensation for land acquisition as budget was not allocated for the purpose. The Finance Ministry revealed that it will provide additional budget. Chief of the Budget Division at the Finance Ministry Baikuntha Aryal said the huge budget has been allocated this year due to problem in construction of transmission lines. “We cannot always provide budget for transmission lines. We have tried to solve the problem of transmission lines by allocating more budget this year,” he reasoned. He revealed that the Energy Ministry has been asked to submit proposal for budget making a program. “Land acquisition is not the only work for construction of transmission lines. The budget can be spent if the Energy Ministry so wishes,” he argued and revealed that the Finance Ministry is ready to provide Rs 1 billion for land acquisition.

    Around a dozen transmission lines including Solu Corridor, Koshi Corridor, Lekhnath-Modi, Marsyangdi-Kaveli Corridor, Hetauda-Duhabi, Dhalkebar-Bhitthamode are to be constructed. The government has also allocated budget for construction of Khimti-Dhalkebar, Hetauda-Bharatpur, Butwal-Kohalpur, Hetauda-Kulekhani-Syuchatar, Bharatpur-Bardaghat, Kohalpur-Mahendranagar, Singati-Lamo Sanghu, Dumre-Damauli and other transmission lines.

    Independent power producers have been claiming that the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) does not have capacity to spend Rs 13.50 billion in construction of transmission lines this year and the budget will not be spent. There have already been problems in transmission of generated electricity to the load centers due to lack of transmission lines though power houses are being built regularly. Electricity generated by the Sipringkhola Hydropower Project (10 MW) developed by Synergy Power has not been connected to the national grid due to lack of transmission line. NEA has not been able to sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with additional projects as the existing transmission lines are all occupied and there is risk of generated electricity going unused. NEA has stopped signing PPA with the projects where transmission lines have not been constructed.

    Source : Karobar Daily