Obstruction turns away investors

    Prime Minister Sushil Koirala (right) at the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee meeting in Kathmandu on Monday.
    Prime Minister Sushil Koirala (right) at the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee meeting in Kathmandu on Monday.

    KATHMANDU, DEC 23 – Following a spate of disruptions to hydropower projects by party cadres demanding shares and other benefits from them, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said Monday that it was a bad practice which would scare away investment.

    “Closing down the existing hydel projects at a time when the country needs heavy investment in the sector does not convey a good message to potential investors,” Koirala told a joint meeting of the Development, Agriculture and Water Resources and Finance committees of Parliament. “The country will not get the required investment if this trend continues.”

    Cadres of the ruling parties themselves have been at the forefront of the movement to extract shares and contracts from hydro projects by preventing them from continuing work.

    The party members have been demanding shares from the 45 MW Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project and supply contracts from the 102 MW Madhya Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project.

    Likewise, the 50 MW Upper Balefi, 22 MW Upper Chaku and 3.2 MW Gelun Khola hydropower projects have encountered similar problems.

    Although domestic and international investors have been showing greater interest in pouring money into Nepal’s hydropower sector, power producers said that such obstructions with the involvement of party cadres would discourage potential investors.

    The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has been leading the campaign demanding shares in Bhotekoshi which has been in operation for the last one and a half decades. The NC has asked for 10 percent of the stock in the project while other political parties have asked for as much as 35 percent of the shares in other projects.

    Likewise, in the case of Madhya Bhotekoshi which is being built by Chilime Hydro, a committee comprising of local leaders of the NC, CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal has been directing the Chinese contractor to do things its way.

    The Chinese contractor Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau, which is building the Madhya Bhotekoshi plant, appealed to Prime Minister Koirala after the committee ordered it to get its approval before buying construction materials and selecting the suppliers.

    With hydropower projects facing such political meddling, Prime Minister Koirala recently instructed Energy Minister Radha Gyawali to put an end to the obstruction at the Madhya Bhotekoshi, Bhotekoshi, Upper Balefi, Upper Chaku and Gelun Khola plants.

    During Monday’s parliamentary committee meeting, lawmakers asked the Prime Minister why the cadres of the ruling parties themselves had been involved in obstructing development of the hydropower sector.

    Lawmaker Gagan Thapa, who is also the chairperson of the parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee, expressed concern at the involvement of the cadres of the ruling parties in obstructing hydro projects.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post