Nepal-India Joint Committee on Water Resources

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    KATHMANDU, JAN 17 –

    Power trade pact, cross-border transmission line to top agenda

    The meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) to be held in Kathmandu from January 24 will discuss matters like Nepal-India Power Trade Agreement, development of Naumure storage-based hydropower project, construction of cross-border transmission line and import of additional energy from India, among others.

    Sriranjan Lakaul, spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy (MoE), said Energy Secretary Hari Ram Koirala will lead the Nepali side, while Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources of India will head the Indian side in the two-day meeting.

    Construction of the Pancheswor Multipurpose Project, continuation of the feasibility study of the Sapta Koshi High Dam Project and problems like flood, inundation and embankment in border areas will also be discussed in the meeting, according to an MoE official.

    The Pancheswor Multipurpose Project is expected to generate 6,480MW energy and irrigate 93,000 hectares of land in Nepal and 1.6 million hectares on the Indian side. Although the Mahakali Treaty (signed 16 years ago) had decided to prepare a detailed project report of the project, work to this effect has not moved ahead so far after both the counties sought benefits beyond the provisions of the treaty.

    “The meeting will try to resolve the existing differences between Nepal and India and will also try to sign agreements that will benefit both the countries,” said the official.

    Due to the differences, the proposed Pancheswor Development Authority (PDA) has not been set up yet. However, a source said India’s Uttarakhand state, which is expected to benefit the most from the project, has urged the central government of India to approve the establishment of PDA. “Due to the pressure from the Uttarakhand government, the Indian team is expected to adopt some flexibility on PDA,” the source said.

    According to the source, the Nepali side will also try to convince India to develop the Naumure Project ‘as per the interest of Nepal’. The 250MW storage project, which the Indian government had committed to build during former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s India visit, has been in limbo after a Nepali team of experts expressed disagreement to the preliminary study carried out by an Indian team.

    The indecision over the project is mainly due to the Nepal government’s plan to irrigate land of Kapilbastu district with the project water and India sought a similar benefit.

    As far as the Koshi High Dam Multipurpose Project is concerned, the meeting is expected to devise measures to ensure feasibility study without any disturbances, MoE officials said. A meeting of the joint-team of experts had recently agreed to extend the deadline for the feasibility study of the project by two years, but technicians deployed for the job at the project site have been facing obstruction from the locals.

    On the Power Trade Agreement, the source said: “We will make every effort to convince the Indian representatives for signing the agreement. Without the agreement, we can neither purchase nor sell electricity to India in a larger volume.”

    The meeting will review the progress made on the development of the 400KV Dhalkebar-Mujjaffapur cross-border transmission line and device measures to fast-track the project.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post