Power line project held up by land acquisition row

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    MYAGDI, AUG 13 –

    Construction of a substation for the Kali Gandaki Corridor transmission line has been delayed due to a dispute over land acquisition. With the construction of the substation being held up, the development of hydropower projects being built in the area has slowed down.

    Locals have opposed the acquisition of land on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River to build the substation for the 220 kvA transmission line.

    The Ministry of Energy started the process of acquiring 100 ropanis of land as per the Land Acquisition Act, however, problems emerged after a ownership dispute over 50 ropanis of it.

    The local people have claimed title by possession of the plots, and have accused the government of trying to take over them forcibly.“If the government wants a proper solution, we are ready to provide land for the project,” said Kabin Tulachan while filing a complaint with the chief district officer. He blamed officials of the Nepal Electrical Authority (NEA) for seizing the land on which they have been living after conducting a survey of the river bank.

    However, the NEA said that it was unable to provide compensation for 51 ropanis of land as it was public property. The utility promised to provide compensation for the rest of the land.

    Project chief Kanhaiya Kumar Manandhar said they would acquire the land only after satisfying the people based on legal provisions. “We are committed to constructing the entire transmission line along the Kali Gandaki corridor as per the agreement signed with the hydropower projects located on it,” he added.

    The delay in construction of the transmission line has pushed both the planned and under-construction hydro projects into a state of uncertainty.

    Dolendra Sharma of the Mistri Khola Hydroelectricity Project (42 MW) said they were confused whether to go ahead with the construction or not. “The NEA will reward us with Rs 50 million if we complete the project early while the interest alone is estimated to be Rs 500 million,” he said. “That’s why we have failed to start construction despite completing the financial closure.”

    The government has earmarked Rs 100 million to build the transmission line on the Kali Gandaki corridor. The budget includes compensation for land to be acquired at Dana and Kusma of Parbat district, the expenses for surveying and conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment and the cost of construction of the Dana-Kusma segment. The NEA has sought a loan from the Asian Development Bank for the project but it has not received confirmation.

    When the transmission line is completed, a number of planned and under-construction hydropower projects will be connected to the substation in Dana. The projects include Rahu Ghat (42 MW), Ghar Khola (8.5 MW), Upper Kali Gandaki (64 MW), Mistri Khola (42 MW), Kali Gandaki Gorge (146 MW), Nilgiri (38 MW) and Ghalemdi (4 MW). The projects being built in Mustang are Tangchhar Khola (2.40 MW), Thapakhola (11 MW) and Kowang-Kali Gandaki.

    The planned transmission line will extend from the Dana substation to the Kusma substation 40 km away.

    Source : Ekantipur.