Expressions of Interest for Budhi Ganga to be called this week

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    The government is all set to call for expressions of interest (EoIs) to conduct a detailed engineering design and environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the 22 MW Budhi Ganga hydropower project.
    Officials of the Ministry of Energy (MoE) said that the notice inviting EoIs would be issued within a week. “All the preparations to invite EoIs have been done and it will be announced within a week,” said a ministry official.
    The government is planning to develop the project by creating a development committee under the Department of Electricity Development (DoED). The department, which issues licenses for hydro projects, will be constructing the project. The ministry has requested the Kuwait Fund to provide a soft loan of US$ 18 million. “The fund has pledged to provide the loan,” said Dilli Bahadur Singh, director general of the DoED, “The board of the Kuwait Fund will make a formal decision in September or October.”
    Nepal had made a formal request to the Kuwaiti authorities for credit during Finance Minister Barsa Man Pun’s recent visit to Kuwait. The cabinet had previously approved the MoE’s proposal to ask for a  loan from the Kuwait Fund for the project.
    The government had also approached the Saudi Fund for a similar loan. “The Saudi Fund has promised to loan the money once the Kuwait Fund approves our proposal,” said Singh.  He added that before the Kuwait Fund approves Nepal’s request, the department will start the process of conducting a detailed engineering design and EIA. The government has to pay an interest of 2 percent per annum on both the loans. A detailed engineering design and EIA are expected to take about two years. “Construction of the project will take some four years,” said an MoE official “The project will come online by 2019.”
    According to a feasibility study conducted by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), it will cost around Rs 4.60 billion to develop the project while the project will generate 162 million units of energy annually. “The government will invest Rs 1.36 billion,” said Singh.
    The Kuwait Fund has invested some US$ 8.5 million to build the Kulekhani hydropower project. It had also invested US$ 7 million in the same project in 1979. Budhi Ganga will be the first hydropower project in 28 years that the government will be undertaking on its own.
    The project is a medium-sized, run-of-the-river type located in Achham district. The project includes a 132 kV switchyard and a 88.6 km-long 132 kV transmission line.
    According to the MoE, the government could give the responsibility of operating and maintaining the Budhi Ganga project to the NEA after its completion.

    Source : eKantipur