Land acquisition of Budhi Gandaki project stalls due to short-staffing


    Jan 30, 2018-The land acquisition process for the Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project in Dhading and Gorkha districts has been in limbo as the administration, survey and land revenue offices in both districts are short-staffed.

    The government in this fiscal year’s annual budget has allocated Rs10 billion to provide compensation to residents who have agreed to give up their land for the construction of the 1,200 MW reservoir-type hydropower Project. More than six months have passed, but the project hasn’t distributed a single penny to landowners.

    Krishna Karki, the Energy Ministry appointed project chief, admitted that they hadn’t started distributing compensation to project affected locals. “Due to lack of adequate manpower at the administration, survey and land revenue offices in both districts, we have been unable to distribute the compensation payment,” said Karki.

    This has infuriated locals as they have not been allowed to build anything on their property or sell it for the last two years as the district administration offices (DAOs) of the two districts have frozen the land to be acquired by the hydropower project.

    Karki said the project would soon initiate the distribution of compensation payments. “Within a week, we will invite applications from the locals of Jyamrung and Chainpur villages in Dhading district; and Fujel, Namjung and Bungkot villages in Gorkha district,” Karki said. “We will distribute Rs5 billion each in the two districts.”

    The land to be acquired by the project has been classified into five categories by the government: paddy field, small farmland, land in market area, land adjoining a road and land near human settlements.

    Paddy fields and small farmlands have been further classified into four grades, with the first grade commanding the highest compensation amount.

    On top of the compensation fixed by the committee, it is offering 15 percent extra to those who own less than 5 ropanis of land, and 10 percent extra to those who own less than 10 ropanis of land.

    The government in May 2017 had hired China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) to build the mega project under the engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF) model. However, parliamentary committees later directed the government to scrap the decision to hand over the project to CGGC.

    The House panels said that the government had breached the Public Procurement Act by selecting the contractor without conducting a competitive bidding process.

    Accordingly, in November 2017, the government revoked the agreement with the Chinese company and asked the Nepal Electricity Authority to develop the project.

    The project is touted as the key to making Nepal self-reliant in energy generation and paving the way for the country to become a net exporter of electricity.

    Source: The Kathmandu Post