KATHMANDU, Aug 19:
The Department of Electricity Authority has hastened the process of awarding survey licenses of 303 MW Arun-4 Hydropower Project to an Indian Company on first come, first service basis – contrary to the policy of developing the projects of the Arun basin by the government itself or awarding the projects to private developers through open competition.
Sources privy of the development at the DoED informed that they were pressurized to forward the process of awarding the survey license to OPG Metals Private Limited and is in final stage at the department.
The company had applied a month ago at the DoED for the survey license by depositing Rs 8 million as license fee for the initial two years.
Some ten months ago, a secretary-level decision of the Ministry of Energy had decided to stop awarding any survey license on the Arun basin on the recommendation of the DoED.
The decision was made on the basis of a recommendation made by the DoED to the energy secretary that the projects should either be developed by the government itself or awarded to private developers after an open competition, saying the projects in the river basin are lucrative.
The energy secretary is the final authority to issue survey license of the hydro projects.
Following the DoED´s recommendation, erstwhile Secretary Hari Ram Koirala had formed a committee led by joint-secretary Anup K Upadhyaya and the committee also confirmed the recommendation of the DoED.
Gokarna Raj Pantha, information officer of the DoED, confirmed that the process of awarding the license to the Indian company is underway.
Asked why the DoED is preparing to award the license going against the secretary-level decision, Pantha said, “Any applicant can apply for the license and the process continues naturally, the top authority are to take final decision on it.”
Sources, insisting anonymity, also informed that the junior officials had denied to accept the application from the Indian company, giving reference to the secretary-level decision. However, later they were directed by the higher authority to forward the application.
The projects in the river basin are comparatively lucrative than others as the variation in the water flow in wet and dry months is low, and they face low sedimentation problems, officials said.
DoED officials said, “The group of Bhatbhateni Departmental Store is among the applicant groups for the project.” However in the application the name of the group is not disclosed.
Earlier, Hanurang Projects Limited, India and Bhatbhateni Power Private Limited had jointly applied for two projects in the river basin including the Arun 4 on September 2, 2010.
Talking to this daily over telephone, incumbent Energy Secretary Bishwa Prakash Pandit said, “I am unaware of the project.”
Following the secretary-level decision of October 9, 2012, the government had issued a by public notice, asking the applicants to withdraw the amount they had deposited for the license. Officials are now worried as to how to deal with other applicants if they turn up demanding their respective projects in the river system.
Currently two projects in the river basin are under construction. These projects were were awarded before the secretarial-level decision.
The Satluj Jalbidhyut Nigam Limited, an Indian power developer, is developing Arun III (900 MW) and Brass Power, a Brazilian company, is working to generate the energy from Lower Arun (400).
Source : Republica