PAC’s indecision leads to further uncertainty in Solu Corridor

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    The parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on April 22 had said it would end a controversy over procurement for Solu Corridor Transmission Line within a week but since then it has not held a single formal meeting on the issue.
    On the same day, PAC asked the Ministry of Energy to put on hold awarding of contract for building the 92-km Solu Corridor Transmission Line to Mohan Energy Corporation saying the decision to hand the corporation the contract required investigation.
    While deciding to intervene, PAC argued its members wanted to look into the matter as the second lowest bidder was awarded the contract and also assured that it would end eight month long controversy within a week.
    Delay in laying transmission lines will lead to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) having nowhere to supply the energy it is contract-bound to start paying for. NEA has to pay for electricity from projects including Lower Solu Hydropower Project (82 MW) and developers of other projects are also not assured of expediting their projects.
    A joint venture between Jaguar Overseas and BS Ltd, the other bidder for the project, had proposed a $ 20.35 million contract, while Mohan had bid $ 22.97 million to lay 90 km of transmission lines.
    Accepting that delays in deciding on the issue PAC lawmaker Bikash Lamsal said: “We have got reports from the Ministry of Energy on the issue as per the suggestions made the Public Procurement Monitoring Office.” Lamsal however did not further explain the suggestions in detail. “We are planning to have a meeting on the next issue,” Lamsal said.
    During discussions at PAC, lawmakers raised issues of Mohan Energy Corporation’s qualifications and validity of different documents while officials of Ministry of Energy clarified that they did not find any shortcoming with Mohan Energy Corporation, rather the joint Jaguar Overseas and BS Ltd-bid was disqualified for it had not submitted the bid security in US dollars, a mandatory requirement specified in the bid document.
    This is not the first time the project has been in controversy. The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority in August last year seized all documents shortly after NEA’s board decided to award the project to Mohan Energy Corporation.
    CIAA had written to the then Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to take departmental action against then energy minister Radha Gyawali after saying that her intentions about awarding the contract to the second lowest bidder were questionable. She was duly.
    The project was stalled until CIAA issued another directive paving the way for Nepal Electricity Authority to select the firm selected by Gyawali i.e. Mohan Energy Corporation. NEA took the decision accordingly on April 5.
    “Even after about a year after the first decision, we are still in confusion about the issue,” a high level official at Ministry of Energy, who did not want to be named, said.
    When Republica tried to contact Energy Secretary Suman Sharma, he did not pick up his phone.
    The project is a turn-key being built utilizing a Line of Credit from India.
    Power evacuation from the under-construction projects — Lower Solu (82 MW) and Solu (23.5 MW) — will be affected by the delay in laying of the transmission lines.

    Source : Republica