Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project Development Committee is planning to invite top political leaders to the project site, seeking national-level political commitment for the development of the much-awaited 1200MW hydropower project.

    The move is aimed at avoiding any possible disruption at the local-level during the project development, the committee said, adding the event will be held within the next 10 days, in which the leaders will sign a commitment letter. A meeting of the committee with lawmakers from Dhading and Gorkha—where the project is based—on Monday had decided to seek the highest-level political commitment to avoid any possible disruptions guided by political interests.Officials of the committee said such a commitment will bind all the top leaders and any change in the government will not affect the project. “Since this is a national pride project, we want to make sure its development is not affected by political factors like change in the government,” said Laxmi Prasad Devkota, chairman of the committee. “We believe after such a commitment, the entire national-level politicians will have the ownership on the project.”

    He said it will also make it easier for the project to gather financial support from foreign Exim banks and multilateral lenders.

    Currently, the project is in the process of land acquisition. Survey Office and Land Revenue Offices in Dhading and Gorkha, under the leadership of the project, have identified and marked the places to be affected by the project as per the directive of the Ministry of Land Reform and Management.

    District administration offices (DAOs) of Dhading and Gorkha have already published land acquisition notices, freezing transaction of about around 59,900 ropanis of land to be acquired. The notice has asked the land owners to present themselves before the DAO to claim compensation by April-end.

    More than 8,000 households will be affected by the project, according to the latest report by the project development committee. The report states the reservoir of the storage-type project will completely submerge 3,560 households and they need to be resettled to alternative location with proper compensation. A total of 4,557 households will be partially affected by the project requiring proper compensation.

    According to Devkota, a four-member committee will be formed under the leadership of the chief district officer, which will determine the rates of the land to be acquired. The project plans to start the compensation distribution process by mid-June. The project development committee is preparing to demand budget for the project to distribute the compensation from the upcoming fiscal year.

    A 263-metre-high dam will be built for the Budhi Gandaki project which will create a lake that could become a tourist attraction. The project is expected to cost around Rs200 billion.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post