Govt mulls leasing land to run transmission lines


    White paper on energy sector

    The government is mulling to introduce a policy to lease land from private owners to secure easement rights to run high voltage transmission lines, the Energy Ministry said Tuesday while launching a white paper on the development of the energy sector.

    An easement right allows the government to erect electricity pylons on the property while the owner retains title to the land.

    Project developers generally purchase land where structures like transmission towers and substations are built. However, the land above which the electricity cables pass is leased from private landowners by acquiring easement rights. In return, compensation equivalent to 10 percent of the land’s value is paid to owners as per the existing provision.

    A majority of landowners who will have to transfer their land titles for the development of such schemes are not satisfied with the existing provision, and have demanded a higher rate of compensation hindering the development of major transmission line projects.

    Due to the absence of a modality, the construction of key transmission line projects of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has lain in limbo.

    The construction of the 132 kV Thankot-Chapagaun, 220 kV Bharatpur-Bardaghat, 132 kV Kabeli Corridor, 132 kV second circuit of Middle and Lower Marshyangdi and 400 kV Tamakoshi-Kathmandu transmission line projects has stalled as the state-owned power utility has failed to secure easement rights from private landowners to erect towers and string electric cables.

    In a bid to resolve the stalemate, the ministry is developing a modality to acquire easement rights by leasing the land.

    “The landowner will get a lease fee for providing easement rights to build power lines of 132 kV or higher capacity,” said

    Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun, launching the white paper. “Also, households affected by power line projects will get an opportunity to invest in hydropower projects.”

    Although leasing land to secure an easement can be an appropriate solution as mentioned in the white paper, the ministry is yet to finalise it. “Several discussions have been held on the issue, but we are yet to prepare an action plan,” said an informed source at the ministry.

    The white paper has given due priority for the development of power line projects throughout the country and also across the border.

    “In the long run, we will develop 400 kV power lines parallel to the East-West Highway and Mid-Hill Highway,” said Pun.

    The paper also envisions building power lines across major river basins connecting the country’s northern and southern parts.

    Minister Pun has included a plan to complete the 400 kV New Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line within four years and initiate the construction of the Lamki-Bareli, Duhabi-Purniya and Kohalpur-Lucknow cross-border transmission lines.

    “Similarly, a 400 kV Nepal-China cross-border transmission line connecting Galchhi, Rasuwagadhi and Kerung will be developed within five years,” says the white paper.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post