KATHMANDU, July 6 :
Power Trade Agreement (PTA) will be high on agenda during the upcoming talks with India´s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to government officials.
The energy trading agreement is said to open Nepal´s energy market to the southern neighbor and also draw investment in the country´s hydropower sector.
Swaraj is visiting Nepal in the third week of July. Similarly, Modi is visiting Nepal in August.
“PTA will be beneficial for both Nepal and India. It will create a foundation for hydropower development in the country,” Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri told Republica.
The government has included PTA with India in its policies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year. The agreement will provide a ground for free energy trade between the two countries. Also with the market assured, it will open new avenues for hydropower development in the country rich in water resources.
“PTA with India should be in the top of priority list as it guarantees market for hydropower generated in the country and will pave the way for power trading, like other commodities, between the two countries,” Radhesh Panta, CEO of Investment Board Nepal, said. “The agreement will assure and encourage financing institutions, both national and international, which are still hesitant to invest in Nepal´s hydropower sector saying that there is no market assurance.”
For trading of power between the two countries, the Dhalkebar-Mujaffarpur transmission line is under construction. Similarly, another cross-border transmission line that links Bardaghat of Nepal to Gorakhpur of India is currently under study.
Nepal had sent a proposal of Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) for signing PTA with India in 2010. But India remained silent on the proposal for four years. However, Nepali officials are excited after India recently forwarded a proposal document from India that says of ´energy cooperation´. They have described the proposal as a gesture for energy cooperation.
When asked whether Nepal will request India to develop any mega projects during the bilateral talks, Secretary Kshatri said that they will be ready to take the Pancheshwar Multi Purpose (PMP) Project forward.
Pancheshwar is to be developed with equal investment from Nepal and India. As per the agreement, the two countries will share water and power equally.
After attending Modi´s inauguration, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had said that India wants to support Nepal to develop a mega project.
Works on Pancheshwar is not gaining pace, as India has not approved Terms of Reference (ToR) of Project Development Agreement prepared by Joint Standing Technical Committee (JSTC) in 2009. The ToR has already been approved by Nepal.
Talking to Republica, Energy Minister Radha Gyawali said that Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae recently told her that India wants to speed up the works by establishing joint project implementation office in Kanchanpur.
Nepal and India are also conducting joint study for Saptakoshi High Dam Project in the Koshi River. The study, however, is going on a slow pace. Similarly, India has decided against continuing the Naumure Hydropower Project after Nepal wanted to include irrigation component in the project. The Indian government had agreed to develop the project on grant and agreement to this effect was signed in New Delhi in 2008.
Rahughat Hydropower Project (30 MW) is being developed in Myagdi under grants from India. However, the project is also getting delayed because of various reasons.
Source : Republica