Pancheshwar to spend Rs19.4b to cut impacts

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    Dec 14, 2017-The cost of minimising the environmental and social impacts caused by the construction of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project is estimated to amount to Rs19.4 billion, said the Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA) which is overseeing the hydropower-cum-irrigation scheme being built on the Mahakali River on Nepal’s western border with India.

    According to a detailed environmental management plan for the project which is being jointly developed by India and Nepal, the PDA will be spending the money under 10 headings.

    The PDA on Wednesday unveiled the 10 plans which include conservation and management of the construction site and nearby areas, conservation and management of forests and wildlife and management of pollution during the construction and operation of the mega project.

    Likewise, the multipurpose project is planning to introduce other plans like aquaculture, tourism development and agricultural promotion with the aim of promoting the livelihoods of the affected locals.  The PDA will also be conducting a Pancheshwar support project which will consist of improving health and sanitation, improving education and culture, introducing income generating activities and and building rural infrastructure.

    Launching the aquaculture plan will incur the highest cost of Rs6.36 billion while the conservation of the construction site and nearby areas is estimated to require expenditure of Rs6.03 billion, the PDA said. Similarly, the PDA will have to spend around Rs2.51 billion under the Pancheshwar support project.

    “These plans are crucial for the successful implementation of the project,” said Ajay Bhakta Mathema, representative of Shah Consult International, the company hired by the PDA to prepare a detailed environmental management plan. “Theseplans will reduce the environmental and social impacts of the project during the construction and operation phase of the project.”

    The PDA has to conduct these plans over a period of 13 and a half years, the estimated time required for the completion of the multipurpose project which will generate 6,720 MW of hydroelectricity and irrigate huge swathes of farmland in Nepal and India.

    However, the implementation of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project remains stalled as Nepal and India have not been able to finalise its detailed project report (DPR).

    WAPCOS, an Indian state-owned company hired by the PDA to prepare the DPR of the project, has submitted the report to both governments but they have shown little interest in approving it.

    Even though an agreement was signed to expedite the much-delayed project during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal in August 2014, it is yet to get off the ground.

    Source: The Kathmandu Post