MoE all set to forward PTA to expedite implementation

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     Nepal can use facility to draw investment in hydro sector

    PDA+PTAKATHMANDU: The Ministry of Energy is all set to forward the power trade pact signed by Nepal and India to the Cabinet to expedite implementation of the deal that allows the country to purchase electricity from the southern neighbour during lean seasons and sell power whenever there is a surplus.

    “The document would be tabled during the upcoming Cabinet meeting, if not the next one,” Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri said. Cabinet meetings are generally held on Mondays and Thursdays.

    Energy Secretary Kshatri and his Indian counterpart Pradeep Kumar Sinha initialled the Agreement on Electric Power Trade and Cross-Border Transmission Interconnection and Grid Connectivity in the Indian capital of New Delhi last Thursday.

    Now, Cabinets of both the countries need to put a rubber stamp on the deal to fast-track the implementation.

    However, it is still unclear whether the Cabinet’s approval would be enough to implement the pact here, as some of the politicians are demanding that the government present the document before the House — although agreement of this kind does not need Parliament’s ratification.

    Earlier, Energy Minister Radha Kumari Gyawali had told The Himalayan Times that Cabinet would take a decision in this regard. This means if Cabinet deems that Parliament’s ratification is not necessary, then the approval extended by Council of Ministers would be enough to implement the power trade agreement (PTA).

    Once this issue is sorted out and the agreement is duly approved, Nepal will invite the Indian side here to sign on the final version of the pact. “The final agreement would most probably be signed at the secretary level,” said Energy Secretary Kshatri.

    For now, early endorsement of the document by the Cabinet or the Parliament is essential, as it would pave the way for early implementation of the pact. Otherwise, the possibility of repetition of the situation of 1996 could not be ruled out.

    On February 17, 1996, Nepal had signed a similar power trade pact with the Indian government. At that time DN Dhungel, secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Water Resources, and Indian Power Secretary P Abraham had initialled the ‘Agreement on Electric Power Trade’ in Mumbai. But that agreement was never implemented due to political wrangling. The government has pledged that it would not let such a situation to repeat again and implement it as soon as possible.

    Implementation of the agreement, which will remain in force for 25 years and automatically renewed every 10 years, will pave way for Nepal to purchase electricity from India when production here falls and sell power to the southern neighbour whenever there is a surplus. The deal would also provide access to domestic and international hydro project developers to the vast market in the south, where they can sell electricity generated here.

    Nepal can use this facility to draw foreign investment in the hydro sector, as electricity produced here can now be officially sold in India.

    Source : The Himalayan Times