Chilime dispute: Solution nowhere in sight; CHCL price falls by Rs 300

Chilime_phMarred in the disputes after the recall of Kulman Ghising as the Managing Director (MD) of the Chilime Hydropower Company Ltd (CHCL), there is still no immediate solution of the problem in the sight as agitators and authorities refuse to budge from their stances.

While the opponents of the Energy Minister Radha Gyawali decision to recall him from the CEO of the Chilime have suspended their protest program for the time-being due to the Teej festival, the government has not shown any willingness to start the dialogue with the dissatisfying groups.

Tensions have flared up since the government decided to recall him. The locals have padlocked three projects offices, including those of Lower and Upper Sanjen Hydroelectric projects and Rasuwa gadi Hydropower project. Agitating locals and the district units of various political parties have even called for an indefinite shutdown beginning from August 23 which they later cancelled due to the Teej festival.

The stand-off between the government and dissatisfied groups is likely to further exasperate the rows in the days to come.

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) had decided to call back Kulman Ghising from CHCL, who is credited with expanding Chilime into the country’s leading power developing company. NEA had sent Ghising as director of the Chilime board, and later the board selected him as the managing director.

The protest that has erupted with the major demand of reinstatement of the Ghising has, however, slowly retreated from its main demand after Minister Gyawali’s refusal to budge from her stance to roll back her decision of Ghising’s call back.

“Our protest is against the hidden interest of the vested group who are hell-bent on killing the Chilime model. This is not for or against any particular person, but for the overall system,” Janak Jivan, Nepali Congress district level leader of Rasuwa, told ShareSansar.

He also warned of stern protest if their demand of ‘safeguarding’ Chilime model was not met.

“Following the removal of Ghising from the MD of the CHCL, the government has changed organizational structure of its three subsidiary companies which is condemnable. Separate posts have been created in these subsidiaries to make political appointments. Since these are the projects developed by the Chilime, we demand that these all subsidiaries remained under a single umbrella. Otherwise, there is no alternative of protest from the locals,” he said.

According to a local journalist, the government has mobilized a police squad in Rasuwagadhi after the agitating locals warned of halting the project works there.

Prem Tamang, UCPN-Maoist Rasuwa’s leader, told ShareSansar that they will intensify the protest after the festival season. “We have not withdrawn the indefinite district shutdown, but cancelled for few days due to the festival season. This will continue after the festival. Further protests will be made public after holding meeting with other political parties,” said Tamang, adding that their bottom line for the negotiation is to end the political intervention at Chilime Hydropower and scrap the decision to restructuring of subsidiaries ‘to make political appointment’.

They accuse that the subsidiaries were restructured by the CHCL following the direct order from the Minister Gyawali. The meeting of the CHCL’s BoD last month has changed organizational structure of its three subsidiary companies, creating separate posts of chairpersons and managing directors in each company.
Earlier, the MD of the CHCL used to assume the post of chairman in all companies.

“The decision of Energy Minister comes with mala fide intention. She wants to make political meddling, increase the project variation cost and ultimately make it another Chameliya. We will not let it meet her mission,” Tamang said.

However, Rameswor Poudel, leader of staff union affiliated with Minister Gyawali’s party CPN-UML, downplays the seriousness of the protest.

“Some fringe groups might be creating obstacles. Rest is normal there. The demands put forth by them do not hold any significance,” he said.

“Since there are many who are capable like Ghising, they should also get chance to prove their mettle. Former MD Ghising is capable so he sould be given broader responsibility rather than confining him in the CHCL,” said Poudel. “As far as the restructuring is concerned, why the subsidiaries should be kept under the umbrella of CHCL if they can run on their own,” he questioned.

According to a high level official at Ministry of Energy, the government is less likely to sit for the dialogue with the agitating groups. “The protest is going on upon the interest of some vested groups which is slowly dissipated. There is no point of sitting in talks with them as the demands put forth by them are absolutely obsolete,” the source said requesting anonymity.

CHCL SHARE PRICE TUMBLING

Shares of CHCL, the most sought scrip of the secondary market, is however witnessing a sharp fall after the dispute erupted with the recall decision of former MD Ghising. The price of the CHCL nosedived to Rs 2,433 as of yesterday from Rs 2,728, the closing price on July 27 when Ghising was recalled.

The whopping fall of one of the most lucrative scrips has been attributed to the ongoing row at the company. The share price which was already hit by the dispute over the recall of MD started further plummeting when Nepal Rastra Bank issued directive to the banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to limit their ‘held-for trading’ investment to one percent of the total core capital (tier two capital).

“Shares of the Chilime used to be traded as the hotcake in the bourse. The trade of its scrip started dwindling when the dispute of MD was public while it went further down when the NRB issued directive to the BFIs for one percent threshold to the short-term share investment as the BFIs were the one of the major investors in the hydro companies shares,” Narnedra Sijapati, president of Stock Brokers Association of Nepal (SBAN) told ShareSansar.

Source : ShareSansar