CPN-M to protest hydro project deals with India

Mohan Vaidya, Kiran

KATHMANDU, NOV 01 – The Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist on Wednesday said it will launch protest programmes against “Indian intervention” in Nepali hydro resources from Thursday.

Mohan Vaidya, KiranAccording to party leaders, the youth wing, National Youth Volunteers (NYV), is organising a protest programme on the Upper Karnali hydroproject on Thursday. The party will also hand over a memorandum to the government to scrap the contract as the first phase of the protests.

A three-day national conference of the NYV, which concluded two weeks ago, had announced mass gatherings against the Upper Karnali, Arun III and the Saptakoshi multipurpose high-dam project from November 1-3.

CPN-Maoist Politburo member Dharmendra Banstola said the protests will target “freeing the nation from Indian inteference in local water resources and thereby, freeing Nepal’s national sovereignty.” “These projects are more in favour of India than Nepal. We will block their implementation until the unequal agreements are scrapped and fresh ones signed,” said Banstola at an interaction, ‘Indian meddling in Nepal’s Water Resources’ here on Wednesday.

Banstola claimed that the handing over of the Upper Karnali and Arun III projects to Indian developers was illegal as they were offered without the parliament endorsing them. “The handing over of the Upper Karnali and Arun III breaches Article 196 of the Interim Constitution,” said Banstola. A total of 28 projects have been taken up by Indian developers.

Banstola said his party was not against development, but that hydropower deals should be in mutual interests. He claimed that if given a chance, his party would generate 4,180 MW of energy from the Karnali river. “We have already formed a committee to initiate this process,” he said.

This new move is certain to discourage foreign investment, particularly from India, in the hydropower sector. Indian hydropower developers–GMR Infrastructure and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam–are currently in PDA negotiations with the government to develop the Upper Karnali and Arun III respectively.

Meanwhile, a pre-feasibility study and soil testing has begun to develop the Saptakoshi high dam project. Nepal and India had in 1996 agreed to conduct a feasibility study on the proposed 3,000 MW multi-purpose high dam and the Sunkoshi-Kamala diversion project. Authorities, however, failed to expedite the work because of protests by Maoist-affiliated associations and local residents.

Source : The Kathmandu Post