Energy, irrigation and water supply projects get high priority

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The government issued the budget statement for the next fiscal year on Wednesday which emphasised the development of new and the completion of under construction energy, irrigation and water supply projects.

The government has allocated Rs83.49 billion for energy projects, under construction hydropower schemes and transmission lines, and has set other high targets.

Releasing the budget statement, Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada said that the government had prioritised the construction and completion of strategically important high capacity transmission lines, both national and cross border, in the next financial year which begins on July 17.

“At least two large scale hydropower projects will be constructed in each province, and the government will expedite work on the Upper Tamakoshi and Rasuwagadhi hydro plants to add another 1,000 MW to the national grid in the next fiscal,” said the finance minister.

The 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Project being built with domestic resources is on track to begin operations in November. The project faced massive cost overruns owing to construction delays. Interest payments on long-term loans bloated to Rs14.42 billion in 2018 from Rs6.7 billion in 2016 when construction started. The government has allocated Rs1.85 billion for the project in the next fiscal.

“The government will move ahead with the construction of 18 power projects with a combined installed capacity of 3,500 MW under the people’s hydropower scheme,” the finance minister said.

The government has allocated Rs3.47 billion to the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre to execute projects in geographically remote areas that have not been connected to the national grid.

The finance minister earmarked Rs13.57 billion for the Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project in Gorkha and Dhading districts, but he did not reveal the project’s development modality. Earlier, Energy Ministry officials had asked the government to allocate Rs20 billion to complete land compensation issues in the project affected areas.

With the aim of facilitating regional power trade, the government has also prioritised the construction of the high capacity Butwal-Gorakhpur transmission line, a major component of the $500 million compact between Nepal and US Millennium Challenge Corporation. For the project to move ahead and mobilise the funds within the stipulated time of September 2019, there must be a cross-border transmission agreement between Nepal and India, which is yet to materialise.

Also, the finance minister announced plans to build cross-border transmission lines on the mid-hill highway extending along both the north and south corridors to facilitate power trade with India and China.

Water supply and sanitation The government has aimed to make drinking water accessible to 92 percent of the population and has allocated Rs43.46 billion to execute water supply and sanitation projects in the next fiscal year.

“State bodies under the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation will be restructured, and water and irrigation projects will be implemented in drought-stricken areas in the next fiscal,” Minister Khatiwada said.

The government has allocated Rs23.63 billion for three irrigation projects—Rani Jamara, Babai and Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose. The finance minister called the Sunkoshi-Marin Diversion Multipurpose Project a national pride project and allocated Rs2.5 billion for its execution.

 

Source : The Kathmandu Post