GMR SIGNS LAND ACQUISITION ACCORDS : Upper Karnali hydropower project

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    Oct 7, 2016- The developer of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project has sealed land acquisition deals with residents of Achham and Dailekh districts, completing the process of pooling around 75 percent of the private land required for the scheme.

    GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Project signed the agreements last week after landowners of two village development committees (VDCs) accepted its offer of a compensation amount of Rs805,000 per ropani. The much-awaited 900 MW hydroelectric project is spread over Surkhet, Achham and Dailekh districts in western Nepal.

    As per the deals, locals who will be displaced by the project will transfer ownership of around 750 ropanis of land located in Bhairavsthan VDC of Achham and Sigaudi VDC of Dailekh to the project developer. GMR has agreed to make payment in the next nine months.

    “The developer has promised to release the payment by mid-June 2017,” said Bam Bahadur BC, a local leader involved in the negotiations. “We are very happy and satisfied with the deal, and we hope the developer will fulfill its commitment.”

    During a meeting held in August, locals had demanded Rs1 million per ropani while the project developer had offered Rs760,000. However, a deal was struck a month later after the developer hiked the offer by Rs45,000 and locals toned down their demand by Rs195,000.

    Meanwhile, GMR still needs to acquire another 250 ropanis of land in Sattalla VDC of Dailekh district after which the private land acquisition process for the project will be completed.

    Landowners in Sattalla are demanding Rs1.55 million per ropani, but the developer is not willing to offer more than what it has agreed to pay in the other two VDCs. The two parties have decided hold the next round of meetings in mid-November and finalise the deal, according a local involved in the negotiations.

    The progress achieved on the land acquisition front has come as a respite for GMR as acquiring private land has been one of its major headaches, and it needs to be completed before financial closure.

    The government and GMR signed a project development agreement (PDA) in September 2014 which states that financial closure should be completed by September 2016. The company failed to arrange the required financing within the deadline, and it cited inability to acquire land as one of the reasons behind the failure.

    GMR will give 27 percent of the shares in the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project to the government, and the country will also receive 12 percent (108 MW) of the total energy produced for free.

    Similarly, the project is expected to provide more than 2,000 jobs and the government is expected to earn Rs300 billion in financial benefits. The project will also be acquiring 207.75 hectares of government-owned land. It will affect an estimated 239 households.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post