IBN on a mission to educate local people

    223

    SURKHET, MAY 26 –

    Upper Karnali HEPInvestment Board Nepal (IBN) has initiated consultations with local residents, political party leaders and lawmakers to ensure the implementation of the 900MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project.

    Although most of the political parties are positive on the development of the project by India’s GMR, the CPN-Maoist has been opposing the government’s move to hand over the project to an Indian company, stating it would increase India’s influence in Nepal.

    The IBN’s move to hold consultations at the local level is aimed at creating a conducive environment for the implementation of the project bef-ore signing the Project Development Agreement (PDA).

    A team led by Under-secretary Khagendra Prasad Rijal has been holding discussions with the locals. IBN CEO Radhesh Pant is also soon leaving for the project affected districts. Pant said their main objective was to educate the people about the project and the PDA, understand their concerns and incorporate their issues in the PDA.

    “Although a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with GMR, we working to include local people’s concerns, such as taking measures to improve their livelihood, while signing the PDA,” he said, adding they were also trying to take the CPN-Maoist into confidence.

    At the time of the MoU signing on January 24, 2008, GMR had agreed to provide 27 percent equity and 12 percent energy to Nepal for free, which has been considered

    an attractive offer. GMR will have to hand over the project to the government after 25 years from the date of the completion.

    The IBN is on a mission to take consent from the stakeholders based in Surkhet, Dhailekh and Accham districts which will be affected by the mega project. According to Rijal, they have planned to hold six interactions in three districts. The project will affect the people from 10 VDCs of the three districts. These include Sattala, Layativindrasaini, Nepa, Naule Katuwal and Khadkavada VDCs of Dailekh; Pokharikanda, Chhapre and Salkot VDCs of Surkhet; and Bhairabsthan and Rahaf VDCs of Accham.

    An estimated 48 hectares private land and 207 hectare of public lands will be acquired for the project. Also, 239 households will be affected, while 46 of them will have to be rehabilitated.

    As per plan, a power house will be constructed in Bhairabsthan VDC of Accham and a 2,200m tunnel will also be built to channelize the water from the Karnali River to the powerhouse.

    Pant said the PDA negotiations with GMR will complete soon as there has been general understanding on risk calculation and jobs of the government and the developer.

    According an IBN official, market and technical risks would largely be borne by the developer. The government has also asked the company to take the responsibility of land acquisition, assuring of help if needed. “The government will, however, assure the app-roval process will be completed timely,” said the official.

    Rijal said they could sign a PDA agreement with GMR within the next two months. The construction work on the project is expected to begin in 2017 and complete in 2025. The total project cost has been estimated to be Rs 140 billion.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post