NEA picks new route for Nepal-China power line

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    The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has worked out a new alignment for a Nepal-China cross-border power line that avoids Langtang National Park in the north of Kathmandu.

    A preliminary feasibility report prepared by the NEA last month had identified three potential routes for the proposed trans-Himalayan transmission line, but NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising rejected all of them because they passed through the nature and wildlife preserve.

    Ghising then ordered Komal Atreya, chief of the monitoring department of the NEA and the focal person for the cross-border power line project, to figure out a route that completely avoids the national park. “A team of engineers made a field visit and they have come up with an alternative route,” said Atreya. “We will now submit a report to the managing director who will forward it to the Energy Ministry.”

    After the ministry approves the route, the NEA will hold talks with State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) to finalise the deal and the construction modality. The Chinese government has appointed SGCC as the focal institution for the development of the power line between China and Nepal.

    The proposed new route steers clear of the national park, but it is situated at a high altitude and is covered by snow throughout the year. This will make it extremely difficult for workers to erect the transmission line, said officials.

    “If we select the new route, we will have to erect towers at an elevation of 3,800 metres from sea level at some locations,” said Atreya. “But it should not be a problem if the Chinese government helps Nepal because it has built power lines at places higher than this.”

    Nepal has also sought financial assistance to build the transmission line which is estimated to cost Rs10 billion. According to the NEA, the Chinese side is very keen on developing the project and has prioritized it.

    SGCC officials visited Nepal in early 2017 to hold talks with the Energy Ministry and the NEA to build a 400 kV power line linking Rasuwagadhi and Kerung across the northern border. During the meeting, Ghising asked the Chinese delegation to extend the proposed transmission line further south up to Galchhi so that the power line could be linked to the Nepal-India cross-border transmission line proposed to be built in Rupandehi district. SGCC officials were positive about Ghising’s proposal.

    As the transmission line is necessary to supply electricity to the railway service which China plans to build up to Kathmandu, the northern neighbour is very keen on developing it. China has already erected a high voltage transmission line up to Shigatse, and if the Nepal government shows adequate commitment, they have agreed to extend it to Kerung within one and a half years, and ultimately connect it with the power line in Nepal, according to the NEA.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post