MELAMCHI, APR 27 –
The future of the 4.5 MW Lower Indrawati Hydropower Project has become uncertain due to lack of cash and bad management. The project, originally scheduled to be completed in two and a half years, is still unfinished after eight years. Only 25-30 percent of the construction work has been done so far.
The project has lain abandoned for the last two and a half years. Even though less than one-third of the project has been completed, it has spent Rs 640 million out of the estimated cost of Rs 900 million.
The Lower Indrawati project is located in Jyamere, Dubachaur and Melamchi village development committees (VDCs). It was previously registered as Sunkoshi Hydropower Project. It is being developed by National Hydropower Company which is owned by the tainted NB Group. A consortium of banks consisting of Nabil Bank, Rastriya Banijya Bank and Nepal Bank have financed the project. National Hydropower Company has also issued rights shares worth Rs 400 million.
“It is natural to doubt whether the project will be completed as more money has been spent than estimated on the work done so far,” said Kumar Pandey, chairman of the board of National Hydropower. He added that only 1 km of the planned 3 km length of the tunnel has been completed.
“As per this calculation, around Rs 700 million more will be needed to complete the rest of the construction work, which means the project will cost Rs 320 million per MW,” said Pandey. “This will make it the country’s most expensive project.”
Pandey expressed surprise at the high cost overrun when very little money is required to construct the entry road and transmission line necessary to evacuate electricity generated by the project. “We do not have money to continue construction,” said a board member of National Hydropower. “If the project is stopped, who will repay the bank loan?”
Meanwhile, the project staff have not received their salaries. The structures that have been completed are starting to disintegrate and they have been overgrown with vegetation. “The banks should have issued finance based on the progress of the project,” said a board member. “We will investigate where the Rs 170 million given by the banks as mobilization fund was invested.”
Source : The Kathmandu Post