Pancheshwar to be expedited with changes in ToR

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    KATHMANDU, Aug 2: 

    Pancheshwar_ProjectA cabinet meeting on Saturday decided to expedite Pancheshwar Multi-Purpose Project by making minor amendments to the Terms of Reference for instituting Pancheshwar Development Authority while deferring Power Trade Agreement (PTA) and Project Development Agreement on Upper Karnali Hydropower Project for a later date.

    Both the Nepal and Indian governments will make necessary preparations for PDA and PTA within one-and-a-half months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s visit and a bilateral agreement will be signed thereafter. 

    Talking to Republica, Minister for Energy Radha Gyawali said both the countries have agreed to waive taxes and other fees on the import and export of construction materials needed for hydropower projects and restrictions on the transport of construction materials would be removed. 

    Likewise, another amended clause in the TOR will state that the project officials shall not be challenged in any court of law in either country assuming that officials discharge their duties in good faith. Indian ambassador to Nepal and Nepal´s energy secretary will sign the agreement on amended ToR on the sidelines of Modi´s visit. 

    Earlier, at the joint commission meeting, Nepal and India had approved the TOR and decided to set up a joint project development office led by an Indian official in Kanchanpur. There will not be any ´gift project´ agreement during the bilateral talks. 

    Sources said Nepal remained stuck to its stance on Power Trade Agreement (PTA) and the latest proposal forwarded to India on Thursday got cold-shouldered. Likewise, India had wanted to sign PDA on Upper Karnali Hydropower Project on the sidelines of Modi´s visit. Indian company GMR has been awarded the project. Investment Board Nepal led by PM Sushil Koirala did not endorse the PDA, which made the Indian side reluctant to sign PTA. 
    Sources said India had rejected Nepal´s PTA proposal, which only mentioned electricity trade and omitted ´power development cooperation´ as proposed by India. 

    Asked why the issue of PDA and PTA was deferred, Minister Gyawali maintained that they could not discuss the issue at the cabinet meeting due to tragic incident in Sindhupalchowk. 

    During PDA discussion at IBN on Saturday, cabinet ministers had raised the issues of land acquisition, impact of hydropower projects on irrigation projects in Tarai and Rs 5 million per MW in subsidies to hydropower developers, among others. 

    IBN has decided to form a committee to study the 150-page PDA document prepared by officials before taking any decision. IBN officials also proposed waiving one percent tax on net income as payment for environmental services as provisioned in the forest conservation rules.

    Source : Republica