KATHMANDU, OCT 01 –
China Gezhouba Group Co, the contractor of Upper Trishuli 3A hydro project, has asked the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to upgrade its capacity from 60 MW to 90 MW. The NEA, which is developing the project, has rejected two earlier requests made by the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to do so.
A NEA board member confirmed that the contractor had asked that the capacity be raised. He added that a board meeting held on Tuesday had directed member Krishna Prasad Dulal to lead a committee to study the proposal.
However, the study committee could not be formed immediately as board member Mohan Raj Pant, who looks after the technical part, was absent. “Pant and me deal with the technical part,” said Dulal. “The board should consult him while forming the committee.”
Earlier, the MoE had decided to increase the capacity of the project and asked the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for additional funds.
After the MoF turned down its request, energy secretary Hari Ram Koirala tried to get the NEA to increase the capacity. He was unsuccessful due to resistance from opposition party leaders and MoE officials.
Meanwhile, a senior NEA official said the contractor had been pressing the government to increase the capacity of the project for a long time. “The contractor is trying to make extra money by urging the government to enlarge the capacity.”
Former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat, during whose tenure the project was conceived, said that the existing contract model (engineering, procurement and construction) with the Chinese contractor does not allow making any changes.
The NEA official also claimed that a few politicians, corporate houses, bureaucrats and agents had been backing the contractor in its campaign to increase the project’s capacity.
A number of MoE officials have termed the move illegal and useless. “Even if the capacity is increased, the additional energy will be available only during the wet season which is no good,” said an official.
“By the time the project starts generating electricity, we will already have an additional 500 MW generated from other projects. And this makes the additional energy in the rainy season of no use.”
Source : The Kathmandu Post