Aug 25, 2018-Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said it may not be able to complete the Amlekhgunj-Motihari petroleum pipeline in June 2019 as scheduled due to dillydallying by government agencies.
Work on the pipeline started last March, and only 16.5 km out of the 36.2-km section which lies in Nepali territory has been completed so far. The pipeline will bring oil from Motihari, India to Amlekhgunj, Bara. It is planned to eliminate expensive and unreliable transportation by tank truck and ensure regular supply and slash costs.
According to NOC officials, the project is encountering various demands from government agencies. Recently, Parsa National Park wrote to NOC demanding Rs1 billion per annum on a regular basis. “The national park said it needed the money to restore the landscape that would be destroyed by the construction of the pipeline and to manage and rehabilitate biodiversity,” said NOC Acting Managing Director Sushil Bhattarai.
Bhattarai said NOC was in no position to make such payments as it was still struggling to regain its financial footing. According to him, NOC is expected to save Rs1.20 billion per year in transportation costs after the pipeline is completed.
Most of the pipeline’s alignment lies on the Birgunj-Pathlaiya road that is undergoing expansion into a six-lane highway. The pipeline is being laid at a depth of 2.5 metres. Where the alignment crosses rivers, the pipeline will be laid beneath the riverbed.
So far, the petroleum pipeline has been laid along the Pathlaiya-Simara-Jitpur, Parwanipur and Birgunj bypass roadway areas. According to NOC, the enterprise is preparing to work on the 8.5 km stretch that passes alongside Parsa National Park. “The pipeline will not cross the conservation area. It is being constructed along the main highway that passes on the right of the conservation area,” Bhattarai said.
The pipeline project has slowed down due to delays in receiving approval for the Environmental Impact Assessment. “As a result, the project has not been able to cut down trees when it needs to, and work is held up,” said an NOC source.
An estimated 33.6 acres of land is required for the project on the Nepal side. Moreover, 25,000 trees need to be cut down and 2,100 electricity poles have to be shifted.
An Indian company, Likhiya Infrastructures, has been contracted to lay the 36.2 km pipeline which is slated to be complete by June 2019. The estimated cost of the project is Rs4.4 billion. India will spend Rs3.2 billion while Nepal will pay the rest, according to the bilateral agreement.
The government has identified the Amlekhgunj-Motihari petroleum pipeline as a national priority project. The scheme was first proposed in 1995, but it gained momentum only after the two governments signed an agreement on August 25, 2015.
Source : The Kathmandu post