Ministries at loggerheads over construction of hydro project, dry port

KATHMANDU, Sept 25:

Rasuwa GadhiTwo ministries are at loggerheads over arrangement of land for the construction of the proposed Rasuwagadhi Dry Port.

Officials at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) and the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) have differences over construction of dry port at a place where Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Project (111 MW) is to be developed.

The government has already granted permission to develop the hydropower project inside the Lantang National Park. The proposed Rasuwagadi Dry Port is to be constructed near the hydropower project inside the national park.

Developers of the project and officials at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation are for allowing the hydropower project to dump the soil excavated from the site at the adjacent land proposed for the dry port.

However, MoCS officials are demanding that the soil be deposited only after the design works of the dry port and land handover process is completed.
“The hydro project should be allowed to dump soil only after the design of dry port and land handover process is completed,” a source at MoCS said. “But project developers and MoFSC officials adamant that the project be allowed to dump soil at the site proposed for the dry port.”

During his Nepal visit in January, 2012, the then Chinese Prime Minsiter Wen Jiabao had agreed to support Nepal in the construction of Rasuwagadhi Dry Port to facilitate Nepal-China trade.

The dry port construction site is the nearest from Nepal-India border. Though Nepal shares a half dozen border passes with the northern neighbor, only Tatopani customs has been effectively utilized for bilateral trade so far.

In a bid to resolve the dispute, a meeting between officials of MoCS, MoFSC and hydropower project developers was organized recently. The meeting decided to form a committee to suggest to the government the ways to ensure smooth implementation of both the projects.

“The committee, which will be formed within two weeks, will suggest to the government the ways to solve the problem,” said the source.
The proposed hydropower project, which is promoted by Chilime Hydropower, is beginning its construction works from December this year. However, the preparation for construction of dry port will begin only after Nepal starts further negotiation after the land handover process is completed.

A meeting of secretaries and other senior officials from MoCS, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), MoFSC and Ministry of Finance (MoF) had decided, in January this year, to arrange necessary land for the dry port at Langtang National Park. The meeting had also requested the MoFSC to make necessary preparation to handover to handover the land for dry port construction.

If the plan takes off, the dry port will be the second such infrastructure in northern part of the country. The first dry port in northern parts of the country is being constructed at Larcha of Sindhupalchowk.

Keeping in view the infrastructure bottlenecks in bilateral trade, the government has been requesting China for its support in development of trade facilities such as expansion of roads, modernization of customs points and construction of new dry points in northern parts of the country.

Source : Republica