The 8.63-megawatt project encroached 2.62 hectares to build the pipeline and 6.8 hectares to build the transmission line, preliminary investigation shows.
The 8.63-megawatt project in Dudh Pokhari Rural Municipality started generating electricity on October 2 last year.
The forest office said that the project has encroached on the forest land.
The electricity generated by the project has been connected to the national grid via a 21-kilometre transmission line.
The forest office said the project encroached 2.62 hectares of forest land to construct a 3.45 km long pipeline.
In addition to that, the hydropower project has also encroached on 6.8 hectares of forest in Dudh Pokhari and Dordi Rural Municipalities to build the 33 kV transmission line.
Purneshwor Subedi, the divisional forest officer, said that the hydropower company did not receive any permission to clear the trees.
Chief District Officer Ram Krishna Adhikari has formed a probe committee chaired by Shankar Puri, a forest officer at the divisional forest office in Rainas.
“The investigation committee is doing a field visit and measuring the encroached land,” said Puri.
“After completing the investigation in a month, we will file a case against the company in court.”
The division forest office has also asked for clarifications from the sub-divisional forest office in Rainas for not being vigilant when the project construction began.
The division forest office, on June 9, wrote to the Nepal Electricity Authority to detach the transmission line of the hydropower project until the investigation is completed.
The office has also informed the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Ministry of Industries, Supplies and Commerce, District Police Office and other government agencies regarding the issue.
The Division Forest Office has also requested the concerned authorities to refrain from purchasing electricity from the project and to hold payments.
In addition to that, it has also sought their support in preventing other similar unlawful activities.
Kiran Chiluwal, the general manager of the Chepe Khola Small Hydropower Project, admitted lapses during the construction of the hydropower and transmission line projects.
“We could not get all the paperwork done as many government offices were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Chiluwal.
“Although we had gone to the division forest office to get the permit, we didn’t get their adequate support. So, we aren’t the only ones to be blamed.”
The construction of the hydropower project started in mid-October 2020 with an investment of around Rs1.5 billion. NMB Bank financed Rs1.12 billion.
The project was scheduled to complete and generate electricity on January 23 last year. However, the Covid-19 pandemic affected the completion deadline.
Source: The Kathmandu Post