KATHMANDU, JUL 30 –
Lawmakers from the districts that would be affected by Upper Karnali Hydropower Project said the 900 MW hydro scheme should be developed in such a manner that would not only benefit the country but also the locals of affected districts.
With the government trying to sign the Project Development Agreement (PDA) with GMR-ITD Consortium during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) on Tuesday held consultation with lawmakers from three districts – Dailekh, Surkhet, and Accham – to brief them about PDA negotiation.
“The project should be developed in a way that would safeguard both the national interest and also benefit the locals of the affected districts,” said Hridyaram Thani, Nepali Congress lawmaker from Surkhet.
Currently, IBN and GMR are in the final stages of the PDA negotiation process which embodies details of risk bearing and benefit sharing between the two parties including the locals of affected districts.
About half a dozen lawmakers including Laxmi Prasad Sapkota, Hridyaram Thani, Amar Bahadur Thapa and Bharat Saud, among others, attended the meeting.
The lawmakers said that they also inquired about the benefits the nation as a whole and locals in particular should hope to receive from the hydro project.
“IBN informed us about the progress being made in PDA negotiation process and the benefits locals are going to receive from the project,” said Bharat Saud, a CPN (UML) lawmaker from Achham. “We asked them to fix the portion of share (of the hydropower project) locals will be getting and raised the issue of rural electrification.”
According to Saud, IBN informed them that the project would afford top priority to the use of local construction materials for the building project, employ local people in various capacities based on their skills and provide skill-oriented training to the unskilled locals so that they could be considered for employment in the future.
Thani said that they also inquired how the project hopes to rehabilitate the people affected by the project.
“We also demanded that locals should get adequate stake in the hydropower project,” he added. Similarly, the lawmakers also inquired how much compensation the owners will be getting for the land that has been acquired for the hydropower project.
The GMR has also agreed to give the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) 12 percent free energy and 27 percent free equity in the Upper Karnali project.
According to a source at the IBN, they are now currently holding discussions with NEA to provide certain percentage of its stake in the hydropower project to the local population. IBN sources said that GMR has agreed to build a small power plant to carry out rural electrification in the project affected areas. The Indian company has also agreed to build hospitals and schools in the locality, which has already been mentioned in the proposed PDA.
Source : eKantipur