Energy secy seeks decision making power for PTA talks

    261

    Mr. Rajendra Kishore Kshatri, Secretary, Ministry of Energy
    Mr. Rajendra Kishore Kshatri, Secretary, Ministry of Energy

    KATHMANDU, Aug 24 :Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri has said they cannot go for bilateral dialogues with India on power trade if they are given strict rules.

    Responding to questions raised by lawmakers at the Agriculture and Water Resources Committee meeting, he sought guidelines with decision making power for the talks. 

    Talking to Republica, Kshatri said interested developers from anywhere in the world should be given level playing field for hydropower generation.

    After an Indian proposal on Power Trade Agreement (PTA), in which it proposed development of hydropower projects in Nepal either with 100 percent Indian investments or joint venture with Indian entities, brewed controversy, three major political parties had formed a committee to forge national consensus for holding bilateral talk with India. 

    The committee had suggested to the government to not bar third parties from making investment in Nepal´s hydropower sector and let the market determine power tariff.

    Earlier, the government had deferred India visit of a team led by Kshatri in the run up to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Nepal´s visit. The team was heading to India to hold dialogues on PTA provisions.

    Source : Republica

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    The Nepali team of representatives will face problems to hold dialogue as the three main political parties have set limits for the power trade agreement (PTA) to be signed with India.

    Coordinator of the negotiating team and Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishor Chhetri says there are problems to move the dialogue forward after Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) verbally instructed to not go beyond the proposed draft during the dialogue. “The three parties have verbally set limits for PTA even though they have not issued instructions in writing. How can we sit for dialogue when we don’t have rights?” he questions. He argues the negotiating team should have full authority. There are only 23 days remaining of the deadline of six weeks the two countries had set to sign PTA.

    “There is no meaning of going to India spending hundreds of thousands if we cannot negotiate beyond the draft. What is the need of going to India when we can decide through correspondence if we are to hold dialogue within the limits?” he asks. Speaking at the meeting of the Agriculture and Water Resources Committee of the parliament he demanded full rights for dialogue. “Negotiation involves give and take. How can we negotiate without authority? Negotiation will not succeed in such a situation,” he opines.

    The Energy Ministry sent its final draft to India through the Foreign Ministry on August 1 after the three parties forged consensus on PTA. India has then requested India to set a date for negotiation for PTA. Nepal also wrote a week ago urging to sit for negotiation only after identifying the points of disagreement. India is yet to send any response to that. The Nepal government is preparing to move forward only after internal discussions if India does not respond within stipulated time. Secretary Chhetri claims the ministry has completed all preparations and only drafting the proposal remains.

    He reveals that the Indian Energy Ministry has already given permission to promoter of Upper Karnali GMR Energy Limited and that of Arun III Sutlej Hydropower Corporation Limited to sell electricity generated in Nepal to India and reasons that PTA is necessary for projects developed by non-Indian promoters to export the generated electricity to India. Indian companies have received generation license for projects with combined installed capacity of 6000 MW out of that issued for generation of 13000 MW. He says investment will arrive only after signing of PTA.

    Reminding that PTA could not be signed in 1997 when both power trade and generation were kept in the same basket he adds, “We should separate power trade and generation, and the proposed Nepali draft has done that.” Signing of PTA will end trade of power at the government level only and it can be done with around half a dozen power trading companies like Tata, Reliance and others instead of just depending on Power Trading Corporation Limited. Nepal has proposed PTA for 25 years and it can be reviewed after that depending on necessity. He clarifies that electricity will not be exported without fulfilling domestic demand and claims that GMR has proposed to sell electricity generated from Upper Karnali to Nepal. The government plans to buy electricity even from Arun III if necessary.

    Former energy minister Prakash Sharan Mahat opines that limits should not be set for the negotiating team. Stating that negotiation will not succeed when all the limbs are tied, he says the negotiating team should be given complete rights. Nepal has strongly raised the issues like being allowed to trade power without any discrimination, no imposition of tax, customs and quotas on trade of electricity, and easy export of power to the third countries through India in the draft proposal.

    Source : Karobar Daily

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————-