Govt decides to upgrade project to 90 MW

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    Former ministers term the decision ‘illegal and immoral’

    Trishuli 3 AKATHMANDU, JAN 03 – Despite strong opposition, the government on Thursday decided to upgrade the capacity of Upper Trishuli 3A Hydropower Project.
    A Cabinet meeting on Thursday evening endorsed the Ministry of Energy’s (MoE) controversial proposal of upgrading the project’s capacity to 90 MW. “The Cabinet meeting has given the nod to upgrade the project from 60 MW to 90 MW,” said Finance Minister Barshaman Pun.
    Both Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Energy Secretary Hari Ram Koirala had been making efforts to upgrade the project’s capacity as per the interest of the Chinese contractor—China Gezhouba Group Co Ltd.
    Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Energy had decided to upgrade the project through a ministry-level decision despite Prime Minister Bhattarai assuring former finance and energy ministers that he would take a decision with their consensus. PM Bhattarai is also looking after the energy portfolio.
    Around a month ago, former finance ministers Surendra Pandey, Ram Saran Mahat and Prakash Chandra Lohani, and three former energy ministers, Prakash Sharan Mahat, Pradeep Nepal and Gokarna Bista had slammed the government’s plan to upgrade the project, terming it ‘illegal, inappropriate and guided by vested interests’. They had even reached out to President Ram Baran Yadav and requested him to halt the upgrading procedure ‘at any cost’.
    “This is illegal, immoral and betrayal to the nation by the government,” Mahat, during whose tenure the project was conceived, told the Post on Thursday. “At a time when the country is in urgent need for more power, upgrading the capacity will delay the project by two-three years.”
    Expressing his anger over the Prime Minister not keeping his words, Mahat said that Bhattarai had abused power for ‘personal and party’s benefit’. “There is no other motive than earning cash. The President must intervene to stop it,” he added.
    Former finance minister Pandey said the government failed to justify the project’s capacity upgradation. “First of all, the contract was given under EPC system at the highest possible cost considering the risk that the contractors might demand variation order,” said Pandey. “Adding more cost even to that highest possible cost is completely wrong.”
    Pandey also said he had heard that the project’s capacity was increased as per the contractor’s demand that would allow it a leverage to skip compensation in the event the project gets delayed. “Instead, the project itself can show the government at fault for delay in project completion,” he added.
    The proposed upgradation will require an additional investment of Rs 4 billion. According to the NEA, the Chinese contractor has already increased the cost for the upgradation.
    The company, which had initially quoted Rs 2 billion, has now doubled the cost to Rs 4 billion. “The additional Rs 2 billion will be misused,” said an NEA official.
    The project, with an installed capacity 60 MW, was estimated to cost Rs 10.6 billion of which the government had borrowed Rs 7.08 billion from China’s Exim Bank at 1.75 percent interest for 20 years.
    The Chinese contractor had long been demanding the project upgradation. After its plan to upgrade the project’s capacity was denied twice by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) board, the ministry had tabled its proposal to the Cabinet in the mid-December.
    According to 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. “The upgradation plan is meaningless as the energy demand is high during the dry season, when the project will be operating at its lowest capacity,” said a senior NEA official.
    The officials said the existing contract—engineering, procurement and construction (EPC)—with the Chinese contractor does not allow making any changes to it. “The project’s capacity upgradation is also against the Public Procurement Act,” said the NEA official.
    It has already been more than a year since the construction of the project started. The project, originally scheduled for completion in May 2014, will be completed only in 2017.
    According to the NEA, upon the project’s completion there will be 3 billion units of surplus power during the wet season.
    However, by the time the upgraded Upper Trishuli 3A is completed the additional energy produced (30 MW) will be of no use.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post

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    Cabinet okays Upper Trishuli 3A upgradation despite all odds

    KATHMANDU, Jan 4: In yet another controversial decision, the caretaker government has decided to upgrade the capacity of the 60-megawatt Upper Trishuli 3A Hydropower Project to 90 megawatts on Thursday. The opposition parties and hydropower experts had long been opposing the upgradation plan.

    Last month, a group of former finance and energy ministers had met Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to protest the plan and the prime minister had assured that they would be consulted before any decision is made on the project.

    “This is an outrageous decision of the government which will further deepen the crisis of confidence among political parties,” Ram Sharan Mahat, former finance minister and central working committee member of Nepali Congress, said.

    “The president should immediately sack the prime minister,” Mahat fumed.

    The run-of-the-river project, which is being developed by a Chinese contractor, China Gezhouba group Co, with a US$ 89 million soft loan from the Exim Bank of China, will produce the extra energy only during the wet season and so it will not help reduce the load-shedding during the dry season.

    “This is outright looting of state coffers and the people have been cheated by the government,” Mahat told Republica.

    The government that was mulling increasing the capacity of the project for the last few months has failed to convince the opposition and related officials from the Ministry of Energy (MoE) and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). The board of directors of the Nepal Electricity Authority had twice rejected the upgradation plan.

    The government even sacked Dr Krishna Prasad Dulal from the board reportedly for opposing the plan. But even after his sacking the board refused to approve the plan. So the Ministry of Energy had forwarded the proposal to the cabinet by bypassing the NEA board.

    Hydropower experts have lambasted Thursday´s government decision. “We clearly smell financial irregularities in the government decision,” Ratna Sansar Shrestha, an energy expert, told Republica.

    “The contractor had initially agreed to develop 90 MW for US$ 111 million. And, now the government has agreed to spend US$ 132 million for the same capacity,” he said. According to Shrestha, the cost of hydropower generation is always on the decline due to falling cost of machinery and equipment. The government had awarded the project to the Chinese contractor to develop 60 MW at US$ 89 million.

    Gokarna Bista, former energy minister and CPN-UML leader also echoed experts. “There might have been financial irregularities worth around Rs 2 billion,” Bista said. “Additionally, this decision will further delay the project by three years, which means the upgradation is meaningless.”

    Bista further added that the NEA will be losing in the long term due to this insensitive decision of the government.

    “This is completely a ´nonsense´ decision of the government and it will hurt NEA badly,” an NEA official said on condition of anonymity.

    Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani, former finance minister and co-chair of the Rastriya Janashakti Party, said that the government has been involved in financial irregularities.

    “The government has given more than the contractor initially asked for to develop the project,” Lohani said. “Furthermore, this project is not going to relieve us from the acute power shortage in the dry season since it generates extra power only in wet season.”

    Source : Republica

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    त्रिशुली – ३ ए मा क्षमता बढाउने सरकारको विवादास्पद निर्णय

    काठमाडौं, पुस २० – सरकारले माथिल्लो त्रिशुली – ३ ए जलविद्युत परियोजनाको क्षमता बढाउने विवादास्पद निर्णय गरेको छ। बिहीबार बसेको मन्त्रिपरिषदको बैठकले चर्को विरोधका कारण विवादास्पद बन्दै आएको उक्त आयोजनाको ६० मेगावाट उत्पादन क्षमताबाट ९० मेगावाट बढाउन स्वीकृति दिने निर्णय गरेको हो।

    त्रिशुली -३ एको क्षमता बढाउने निर्णय भएको छ,’ मन्त्रिपरिषदको निर्णयबारे जानकारी दिँदै अर्थमन्त्री वर्षमान पुनले भने ‘यसबारे अध्ययन गर्न उर्जामन्त्रालयद्धारा गठित उच्चस्तरीय समितिको सुझाव बमोजिमनै ३० पूर्वसम्झौता भन्दा ३० मेगावाट बढाउन सैद्धान्तिक स्वीकृति दिने निर्णय भएको हो।’

    उनका अनुसार महिनादिन अघि उर्जा मन्त्रालयले गरेको प्रस्ताव बमोजिमै आयोजनाको क्षमता बढाउने निर्णय भएको हो।

    सरकारले बिहीबार दिएको यो सहमतिसँगै चिनियाँ ठेकेदार कम्पनी गेजुवा त्रिशूली ३ एको बर्षायाममा मात्र ३० मेगावाट थप बिजुली उत्पादन हुने गरी आयोजनाको क्षमता बढाउने वर्षौँको प्रयास सफल भएको छ।

    तोकिएको क्षमतालाई बढाउन नयाँ टेण्डर आह्वान गर्नुपर्ने व्यवस्थालाई वेवास्ता गर्दै सरकारले मन्त्रिपरिषदबाटै स्वीकृति दिएको हो। परियोजनालाई ९० मेगावाटको बनाउन स्वीकृति दिँदा करोडौं भ्रष्टाचार भएको भन्दै विपक्षी दलका पूर्व उर्जा, अर्थमन्त्रीहरुले यसअघि राष्ट्रपतिलाई यो सम्झौता नेपालको हित विपरीत भएको भन्दै रोक्न आग्रह गरेका थिए।

    ९० मेगावाटको बनाइए पनि लोडसेडिङ हुने सुख्खा समयमा भने ६० मेगावाट भन्दा बढी विद्युत उत्पादन हुँदैन। यसअघि प्रधानमन्त्री बाबुराम भट्टराईले पनि पूर्व अर्थमन्त्रीहरुलाई सहमति बिना सरकारले यो परियोजना अघि नवढाउने आवश्वासन दिएका दिए।

    पूर्वअर्थमन्त्रीहरुले पछिल्लो सरकारी तयारीले लोडसेडिङ कम गर्न नसक्ने, महंगो पर्ने र आर्थिक चलखेलको संकेत देखिएको दावी गर्दै आएका छन्।

    वर्षायाममा बिजुली बढी हुने समयमा बढी उत्पादन भए पनि चाहिने सुख्यायाममा एक युनिट पनि उर्जा नथपिने आयोजनाको लागत नबढाउन दवाव थियो। सरकारको यो निर्णयसँगै पौने ४ अर्ब रुपैयाँमा निर्माण पूरा हुने आयोजना सञ्चालन पनि सन् २०१७ सम्मका लागि धकेलिएको छ।

    माथिल्लो त्रिशुली ३ एमा ठेकेदार कम्पनीको मागबमोजिम नयाँ खाले भेरिएसनको स्वीकृति दिँदा मुलुकले चरम लोडसेडिङको समस्या भोगिरहेको बेला आयोजनाको निर्माण अवधि दुई वर्षपछि धकेलिने र लागतसमेत चार अर्ब रुपैयाँ बढने भन्दै अर्थवीद्हरु, पूर्व अर्थमन्त्री, उर्जामन्त्रीहरुले यसको विरोध जनाउँदै आएका छन्।

    उर्जा मन्त्रालयका उच्च अधिकारीहरुका अनुसार इपीसी कन्ट्रयाक्टमा निर्माण भैरहेको उक्त आयोजनाको भेरिएसन गर्न अर्थात निर्माण लागत बढने गरी उत्पादन क्षमता बढाउन इपीसी ठेक्का सम्झौता र विद्यमान सार्वजनिक खरिद ऐन लगायतका विद्यमान नेपाली कानूनविपरीत छ।

    झण्डै दुई वर्ष अघिदेखि काम सुरु गरेको ठेकेदार कम्पनीले ठेक्का पाएदेखि नै उक्त आयोजनाको क्षमता बढाउन सरकारलाई दबाब दिँदै आएको थियो। तर यसअघिका उर्जामन्त्रीहरु प्रकाशशरण महत, गोकर्ण विष्ट र पोष्टबहादुर बोगटीको पालामा ठेकेदारको मागलाई अस्वीकार गर्दै आएका थिए। वर्षौँदेखि नेपालको हितमा नहुने भन्दै रोकिएको उक्त निर्णय आफैले उर्जामन्त्रालयको समेत जिम्मेवारी हेरेको बेला प्रधानमन्त्री बाबुराम भट्टराईले मन्त्रिपरिषदबाट यो निर्णय गराएका हुन्।

    पूर्व ऊर्जा मन्त्री तथा एमाले नेता गोकर्ण विष्टले सरकारी पछिल्लो तयारी सार्वजनिक खरिद ऐन विपरित मात्रै नभएर लोड सेडिङ कम गर्न नसक्ने, महंगो र आर्थिक कुरा रहस्यपूर्ण भएको बताए।

    ‘सम्झौताको समयमा निर्माण कम्पनीले २२ मिलियन अमेरिकी डलर(करिब १ अर्ब ९२ करोड ६ लाख रुपैया) थपे वर्षाको समयमा ३० मेगावाट विद्युत उत्पादन सकिने प्रतिवेदन बुझाएको थियो,’ विष्टले नागरिकसँग भने, ‘तर अहिले ४४ मिलियन अमेरिकी डलर( ३ अर्ब ८४ करोड १३ लाख रुपैया) लगात बढाउन खोजिएको छ। र यो आर्थिक वृद्धि रहस्यपूर्ण छ।’

    विष्टले तत्कालै विद्युत आयोजना सम्पन्न गरेर लोडसेडिङको समस्या समाधान गर्नु पर्ने अहिलेको आवश्यकता भएको बताए।

    उनले यो परियोजनाले बर्षादमा मात्रै राहत पु¥याउने भएको र त्यतिवेलासम्म तामाकोशी लगायतका आयोजना पनि आउने भएकाले क्षमता थप गर्नुको कुनै औचित्य नभएको बताए। क्षमता थप गर्दा सार्वजनिक खरिद ऐन अनुसार टेण्डर गर्नुपर्ने भए पनि मन्त्रिपरिषदले सिधै निर्णय गरेकाले यसले कानूनको धज्जी समेत उडाएको उनको भनाई छ।

    पूर्वअर्थमन्त्री तथा नेपाली कांग्रेस नेता रामशरण महतले कामचलाउ सरकारलाई यस्तो गम्भीर विषयमा निर्णय गर्ने अधिकार नभएको बताए। ‘यो निर्णयले विद्युतीय समस्या समाधानमा कुनै प्रगति हुँदैन भने बन्दै गरेको परियोजना समेत थप दुई बर्ष पछि धकेलिएको छ,’ उनले भने ‘राष्ट्रलाई ब्रह्मलुट गरेर सिधै भ्रष्टाचार गर्ने यो सरकारलाई यही आधारमा राष्ट्रपतिले तत्काल बर्खास्त गर्नुपर्छ।’ उनले यो बाबुराम सरकारको लुटने अभियानको निरन्तरता भएको बताए। उनले आयोजनाको क्षमता बढाउँदा जुन समयमा विद्युत अभाव हुने हो त्यसमा नथपिने, आयोजना निर्माणमा ढिलाई हुने र लागत समेत बढने भएकाले यसलाई तत्काल रोक्नुपर्ने बताए।

    पूर्वअर्थमन्त्री प्रकाशचन्द्र लोहनीले यसअघि त्यै कम्पनीले ९० मेगावाट बनाउन कवोल गरेको मूल्यको दोव्वर मुल्यमा त्यही कम्पनीलाई दिनु रहस्यपूर्ण भएको बताए। ‘त्यतिनै क्षमताको बनाउन यसअघि प्रस्ताव गरेको कागजात हामीसंगै छ,’ उनले भने ‘घटाउनुको सट्टा उल्टो त्यै प्रस्तावकलाई करोडौं थपेर दिनुले कुन नियतले दिइयो भन्ने प्रष्ट गर्छ।’ उनले आयोजनाले के फाइदा गर्छ ? भन्ने सामान्य बुझाइलाई समेत लत्याएर सरकारले यो निर्णय गरेको बताए। उनका अनुसार यो निर्णयले लागत ४ खर्ब रुपैयाले वृद्धि हुने र आयोजनाको समयावधी तीन वर्ष थपिने छ।

    इपीसी कन्ट्रयाक्टमा निर्माण भैरहेको उक्त आयोजनाको भेरिएसन गर्न इपीसि ठेक्का सम्झौता र विद्यमान नेपाली कानून अनुसार नमिल्ने उर्जाविद्हरु बताउँछन्। इपीसि कन्ट्राक्टमा इन्जिनियरीङ, मेसिनरी तथा उपकरण खरिद र निर्माण सबै कामको जिम्मेवारी ठेकेदारको हुन्छ। यस्तो ठेक्कामा क्वान्टिटी भेरिएसन गर्न मिल्दैन। आयोजनाको क्षमता ६० मेगावाटबाट ९० मेगावाटमा वृद्धी गर्दा स्कोप भेरिएसन हुन्छ। सरकारको यो स्वीकृतिले उक्त आयोजना पाँच बर्षपछि मात्रै निर्माण सम्पन्न हुने र त्यतिवेलासम्म मुलुकमा बर्षायाममा आवश्यकताभन्दा विद्युत उत्पादन भैसक्ने भएकाले यो आयोजनाबाट उत्पादन हुने थप ३० मेगावाट विद्युत पुरै खेर जाने विद्युत प्राधिकरणका अधिकारीहरु बताउँछन्।

    मन्त्री विष्टका अनुसार चार अर्व रुपैयाँ खर्चेर माथिल्लो त्रिशुली ३ ए आयोजनाको क्षमता वृद्धि गर्दा प्राधिकरणको खेर जाने विद्युतको परिमाणमा १५ करोड युनिट थपेर प्राधिकरणलाई वार्षिक ८० करोड घाटा हुन्छ। आयोजनाको उपयोगी समय ३० बर्ष मान्दा आयोजनाको कुल जीवनमा माथिल्लो त्रिशूली ३ ए कारणबाट मात्रै २४ अर्व रुपैयाँ घाटा पर्नेछ। यो रकमले माथिल्लो त्रिशुली ३ ए जस्तो ३ वटा आयोजना बनाउन सकिन्छ।
    स्रोतका अनुसार जलविद्युतका एजेन्ट, सिमित स्वार्थ भएका उर्जा मन्त्रालयका कर्मचराी र यि दुवैसंग बलियो साँठगाँठ भएका प्रभावशाली नेतालाई समेत उपयोग गरि सरकारी प्रावधान मिचेर हतार हतारमा उक्त आयोजनाको क्षमता थप गर्ने निर्णय भएको हो। यसअघि विद्युत प्राधिकरणको सञ्चालक समितिद्धारा गठित दुई भिन्नाभिन्नै प्राविधिक समितिले उक्त आयोजनाको क्षमता बढाउन आर्थिक र प्राविधीक हिसावले अनुपयुक्त भन्दै अस्विकार गर्दै आएका थिए। उर्जाविद्हरुका अनुसार यस आयोजनाको क्षमता जतिनै बढाएपनि यसले सुख्खायाममा उत्पादन गर्ने उर्जामा कुनै सहायता हुनेछैन। हाल निर्माणधिन जलविद्युत आयोजनाहरु तोकिएको समयमै सम्पन्न भएमा सन् २०१७ बाट बार्षिक ३ अर्व युनिटभन्दा बढी बिजुली वर्षायाममा खेर जाने प्राधिकरणको प्रक्षेपण छ।

    प्रस्तुति: नागरिक