KATHMANDU, DEC 04 –
The Ministry of Energy (MoE) on Monday sacked Krishna Prashad Dulal as the member of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) board. Dulal had been opposing an MoE controversial plan to upgrade the capacity of Upper Trishuli 3A hydropower project from 60 MW to 90 MW.
Dulal said that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who also has Energy Ministry portfolio under him, sacked him for his stance against the project’s upgradation.
According to MoE sources, Dulal was sacked from the NEA board to pave the way for making ministerial decision on the upgradation of Upper Trishuli 3A. The NEA board is yet to endorse the upgradation proposal.
The upgradation is estimated to cost an additional Rs 4 billion, according to the NEA, and will delay the project by two more years. A Chinese company, which had initially proposed cost of Rs 2 billion for the project’s upgration by 30 MW, has now raised it to Rs 4 billion.
According to the NEA officials, the capacity upgradation does not contribute much to resolving the power shortage, as the additional energy will be available only during the wet season.
“I had been refuting the idea of the project’s upgradation in the board meeting since the beginning,” said Dulal, “I was sacked so as to clear the way to proceed with the controversial plan.”
Energy Secretary Hari Ram Koirala, however, claimed that Dulal was sacked from the NEA board for his negligence towards the authority. “Why should one be put in the NEA board if he is politically motivated and has no good faith for the institution?” he said.
Dulal had been appointed as an NEA board member during the tenure of then Energy Minister Post Bahadur Bogati.
The decision to upgrade the project’s capacity has drawn criticism from within the MoE and the NEA.
However, a high-level committee formed to study the possibility to upgrade the Upper Trishuli A Hydropower Project (60MW) has suggested to increase the project’s capacity by 30MW.
In line with the Ministry of Energy (MoE) agenda, which has been pushing for upgradation of the project since mid-June, the committee headed by MoE Joint Secretary Moti Bahadur Kunwar suggested both the options—sticking to original plan of 60 MW and upgrading to 90 MW—are ‘feasible’. NEA officials, however, insist the committee’s dual recommendation ‘is a ploy’ to expand the project’s capacity to 90 MW.
Kunwar-led committee was the third of its kind formed by the ministry on Upper Trishuli 3A after two previous committees had turned in reports against the capacity upgradation, stating it unfeasible both technically and financially.
Chinese contractor China Gezhouba Group Co has also been pressing the NEA for the project’s upgradation ever since securing the contract. However, fomer Energy Ministers Prakash Saran Mahat, Gokarna Bista and Posta Bahadur Bogati had all rejected its demand.
“The upgradation will only benefit the contractor and its local agent,” said an NEA official. “It is against the Public Procurement Act and EPC model based on which the project is being developed.”
Source : The Kathmandu Post