Nepal-China power line plan hits funding snags

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    Nov 21, 2018-

    China is unlikely to fund the construction of the much-hyped trans-Himalayan electric transmission line which the government had hoped to build with its help due to viability issues.

    During a meeting of the Nepal-China joint technical committee held in China in September, the Chinese side insisted that the proposed power line linking Rasuwagadhi and Kerung across the northern border should be economically viable. The two governments formed the joint technical committee to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) of the first ever cross-border power line.

    Chinese officials indicated that Beijing would not provide a grant to develop the transmission line, according to a Nepali delegate who participated in the conference.

    “The Chinese side, coordinated by the vice-chair of State Grid Corporation of China, asked if the project was commercially viable and requested details of the generation, demand and supply of electricity in Nepal,” said the official.

    “We have submitted the details along with the projected generation, demand and supply of electricity. As per our forecast, we will have surplus electricity in the next few years which we can export.” The financial modality for the execution of the project will become clear at the next meeting of the committee scheduled to be held next month, the official said.

    Komal Atreya, the government-appointed project chief of the cross-border power line project, said they hadn’t ruled out the possibility of securing a Chinese grant to build the power line. “During our next meeting, we will try to convince the Chinese side about the strategic importance of the project,” said Atreya. “As the power line project can link the Chinese energy market with other South Asian countries, they might be interested in bankrolling the scheme.”

    Nepal and China formed the joint technical committee in July as per an understanding signed between the two governments during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s last visit to China.

    The team was authorised to prepare the DPR and finalise the construction and funding modality of the 400 kV trans-Himalayan power line. The transmission line will extend from Galchhi in Nepal to Shigatse in China.

    As only 80 km of the estimated 800-km length of the transmission line lies within Nepali territory, Nepal has asked China to take the lead in developing the project.

    The Nepali portion of the power line will stretch from Galchhi in Dhading district to Rasuwagadhi on the border with China in the north, according to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the government appointed focal institution for the execution of the project. The NEA has finalised the alignment of the power line.

    State Grid Corporation of China officials visited Nepal in early 2017 to hold talks on the planned power line with the Ministry of Energy Water Resources and Irrigation and the NEA. During the meeting, NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising asked the Chinese delegation to extend the proposed transmission line further south to Galchhi so that it could be linked with the Nepal-India cross-border transmission line proposed to be built in Rupandehi district.

    Source: The Kathmandu Post