NEA grapples with unforeseen challenges

    305

    energy-transmissionKATHMANDU: Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) generally faces problems while building power transmission lines due to heavy compensation demanded by locals. This problem has become so common that many officials of the state-owned power company have started taking it as another ordinary incident.

    But the company probably had never imagined that it would come across a similar problem while upgrading existing power transmission lines.

    NEA is currently converting 46-km single-circuit Hetauda-Kulekhani-II-Siuchatar transmission line into a double circuit transmission line. 

    This generally means that the power company will add another line to the existing transmission towers erected some 27 years ago.

    Once the circuit is added, the 132kV transmission line, which currently has the capacity to carry around 100 megawatts of power, will start transporting an additional 100 MW of electricity.

    “But we have not been able to complete this work because of heavy compensation demanded by locals residing in Hetauda and Matatirtha areas,” a senior NEA official told The Himalayan Times on condition of anonymity. “As a result, lines at around a two-km stretch of Chauki Tole in Hetauda and at around a 10-km stretch in Matatirtha area are yet to be added.” Because of this problem, the project, which should have been completed by last fiscal year, is still incomplete. 

    NEA generally demands nine metres of land on each side of the centre line to build transmission line networks. It buys some of this land to build transmission towers.

    But it doesn’t purchase the portion of land on which high-voltage wires pass. Instead, it extends one-time compensation of 25 per cent of the market value of land to Kathmandu Valley-based owners and up to 20 per cent to those residing outside the Valley.

    This compensation is extended on condition that owners do not build buildings, plant trees or conduct construction activities on 

    land from where lines pass through — although they are allowed to perform farming activities on such plots.

    “At the time when the Hetauda-Kulekhani-II-Siuchatar transmission line was built, we didn’t have a system of extending compensation to owners of land from where high-tension wires passed through,” the official said.

    Later, when the new Electricity Regulation was introduced in 1993, it said compensation shall only be extended to projects whose construction works had begun after enforcement of the regulation.

    “So, we cannot legally provide compensation as demanded … But locals are saying they were deceived in the past and won’t allow NEA to trick them again,” the official said.

    As per the official, locals of Matatirtha area are currently demanding compensation of around Rs 700,000 to Rs 800,000 for every aana of land and locals in Hetauda are demanding a similar amount.

    “If we extend this amount, the cost of the government-funded project, which currently stands at around Rs 80 million, will shoot to around Rs 900 million, which is ridiculous,” the official informed.

    However, Janak Rijal, a local of Matatirtha village development committee, refuted claims that locals were demanding hefty compensation prior to letting NEA add second circuit to the transmission towers.

    “Yes, people are demanding compensation and they should be compensated if it’s possible. But we have not officially 

    declared any figure and are willing to sit and talk in this regard. But if it is legally impossible, I guess the government won’t listen to us and move ahead forcefully,” said Rijal, a former VDC chairman.

    NEA has been trying to upgrade this transmission line — a part of the national grid — to evacuate electricity from Kulekhani III hydro project. The upgradation will also provide NEA an alternative and shorter route to transport power to eastern parts of the country and may ensure continuous supply of electricity to the Valley even when problems erupt in Marshyangdi-Kathmandu transmission line.

    In the light

    • NEA converting single-circuit Hetauda-Kulekhani-II-Siuchatar transmission line into double circuit transmission line

    • Locals in Matatirtha and Hetauda demanding compensation of up to Rs 800,000 for every aana of land

    • Due to this, NEA unable to add lines in two-km stretch of Chauki Tole in Hetauda and at 10-km stretch in Matatirtha area

    • Govt official says giving into demands will shoot up the cost to Rs 900 million, from existing Rs 80 million

    • A local from Matatirtha refutes saying they have not officially declared any figure 

    Source : The Himalayan Times