The Energy Ministry is mulling to award the implementing authority for a few 500 MW plus hydropower projects to Investment Board Nepal (IBN) in a bid to resolve their longstanding dispute about who has jurisdiction over them.
A reliable ministry source said newly appointed Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun was considering putting four to five hydropower projects into IBN’s project basket.
“IBN will implement 500 MW hydropower projects that will be developed under public private partnership (PPP) while the ministry will execute schemes that will be developed by state agencies,” said the source. “Initially, IBN will have four to five mega projects in its basket, and based on its capacity, it will be given a few more.”
Minister Pun, according to the source, will also speak with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli who chairs the IBN before reaching a final decision.
The row between IBN and the ministry flared up recently after the board asked for the original files of all 500 MW-plus hydropower projects currently being monitored by the ministry. The board also asked for the reports of studies of 500 MW-plus projects being carried out by the ministry, Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS), Department of Electricity Development, Nepal Electricity Authority and other state agencies.
IBN decided to demand the reports after the ministry continued issuing survey license for 500 MW-plus hydropower projects to various private and state agencies.
The board management felt that the ministry was pushing IBN into a corner and working unilaterally. Subsequently, on March 15, IBN wrote to the Energy Ministry asking it to submit the files within 15 days after getting the go-ahead from the 29th meeting of the IBN board chaired by Prime Minister Oli.
In its letter, IBN also stated that it had the full authority to implement projects with an installed capacity of 500 MW or more citing the Investment Board Act. The ministry, instead of sending the documents as demanded by IBN, tried to assure the board management that it would provide enough mega projects for it to execute with private funding.
IBN and the ministry have been at loggerheads with each other over the implementation of hydropower projects with an installed capacity of more than 500 MW for a long time. Disagreements between the two started after the ministry issued a survey licence for the 650 MW Tamakoshi 3 Hydropower Project to TBI Holding in October 2017 even as IBN was preparing to invite international bids to build the much-awaited project.Irked by the decision, IBN wrote to the ministry asking it to send the documents of the 688 MW Betan Karnali and 617 MW Bheri-1 hydropower projects whose survey licences were issued by the ministry.
The Energy Ministry decided to consult the Law Ministry before reaching a decision and forwarded IBN’s letter to it. The Law Ministry said that the Energy Ministry had the sole authority to issue survey licences for hydropower projects, and that issuing such licences would not impinge on IBN’s jurisdiction nor violate the provisions of the Investment Board Act.
Source : The Kathmandu post