Construction of the much-awaited 900MW Arun III Hydropower Project has moved a step ahead, with the District Administration Office (DAO), Sankhuwasabha, on Monday publishing a land seizure notice for acquiring private plots.

    The notice has come as relief for SJVN Arun III, the project’s developer, as land acquisition is one of the important preconditions for financial closure. According to the Project Development Agreement (PDA), the developer has to complete financial closure by November 2016.

    The DAO has also frozen transactions of 49 hectares of private land to be acquired by the project. The notice was issued as per the Land Acquisition Act 1977. The notice has asked the land owners to be present at the DAO within seven days, excluding travel time, to report if there is any satisfactory reason to not acquire the specific land parcel. The notice has also asked the land owners to notify the DAO if there is any case of ownership change of the land parcels.

    As part of the land acquisition process, a price determination committee will be formed under the coordination of the Chief District Officer, which will determine the rate of the land to be acquired, according to Investment Board Nepal (IBN).

    “Actual negotiations with the ones to be displaced with start within a month,” said an IBN source.

    “The Land Acquisition Act has given full authority to such a committee to determine the rate of the land to be acquired. However, as per the international practice, the economic status of the people should not degrade after they relocate,” the source said, adding the price determination process might take as long as two months.

    There are 391 private land parcels, including 112 in Diding, 82 in Yaphu, 147 in Num and 50 in Pathivara VDCs. The project will also be acquiring the houses, cowsheds, huts and plants on those land plots.

    As the locals to be displaced have agreed on a resettlement action plan put forth by the developer, the land acquisition will be easier, said the IBN source. The tri-party agreement was signed between IBN, SJVN and the locals of Sankhuwasabha in February.

    The resettlement plan complies with the Asian Development Bank’s “safeguard standard” and the affected people will be compensated as per the international relocation and resettlement standard.

    As per the agreement signed between IBN and SJVN on November 24, 2014, the developer will complete the construction of the plant and start energy generation by 2020.

    According to IBN, Nepal will receive Rs348 billion over 25 years from the project. SJVN will provide 21.9 percent of the energy generated free of cost, which is worth Rs155 billion, plus another Rs107 billion in royalties.

    As per the PDA, the Indian company will allot shares worth Rs1.6 billion to the locals, 50 percent of which will be issued within two years of the project’s launch. The rest of the shares will be issued at a later date at a premium.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post