Nepali team heads to India for Pancheshwar talks

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    Sep 5, 2017-A Nepali team of experts left for the Indian Capital on Monday for bilateral talks to finalise a detailed project report (DPR) of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project–a mega hydroelectric-cum-irrigation project.

    The team led by Madhusudhan Adhikari, secretary at the Water and Energy Commission of Nepal, will meet with Indian team of experts led by Narendra Kumar, secretary of the Central Water Commission of India, on September 5 and 6 to finalise the DPR.

    Before leaving for New Delhi, the Nepali team had met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Sunday to brief about the project. During the meeting, Deuba instructed the team to keep the national interest before finalising the DPR of project. In the meeting, the PM said Nepal will invest 37 percent of total investment while rest should come from the Indian side. This is official position of Nepal and the PM directed the officials to stick on the same position.

    Nepal and India had agreed to finalise the DPR of the project within a month of Deuba’s state visit to India in last week of August. Experts from both sides had met in Kathmandu in an attempt to finalise the DPR before PM’s visit to India, but the meeting ended inconclusively.

    WAPCOS, an Indian state-owned consultant hired by the Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA), has prepared the DPR of the project which needs to be approved by both countries before the construction can start. Use of water resources, location of the dam, installed capacity of the project, cost sharing, funding arrangements and construction modalities of the project have been the major bone of contention.

    The Joint Expert Group, which is led by secretaries of the two countries, was formed in a bid to resolve the outstanding issues.

    Pancheshwar tops PM Deuba development agenda. Immediately after assuming the post of prime minister for the fourth time, Deuba said that the project would be pushed forward.

    However, the fate of the project hangs in the balance as there is a strong opposition against it in the Indian state of Uttarakhand which lies across Mahakali River from Nepal. The Uttarakhand state government has been urging the Indian federal government to address outstanding issues before going ahead with the project. According to the state government, the planned Pancheshwar dam will submerge 60 villages and dislocate 31,000 families in Uttarakhand.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post