KATHMANDU, JUL 24 –
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday asked the government not to proceed ahead with the power development agreement (PDA) negotiation with GMR Energy for developing 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. A single bench of Justice Bharat Bahadur Karki issued a stay order that will remain until July 31, wherein a bench would decide whether a further stay is required.
The SC also ordered the government not to accept Detail Engineering Report of the project to be submitted by GMR Energy. The decision of the court comes at a time when the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) is holding talks with the Indian power developer for signing the PDA. The single bench was responding to a petition filed by 29 individuals of the affected districts. The petitioners argue that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Government of Nepal and GMR Energy to develop the Upper Karnali Hydropower
Project on January 24, 2008 has ignored the rights of the locals of the affected districts.
They claim that the Indian power developer failed to comply with the provision of starting the project within three months of signing the MoU and furnish a progress report every six months as per the Electricity Regulation. “In such a situation the MoU is supposed to be invalid. But, the survey license period has been extended time and again under various pretext,” reads the petition.
They further claim that the government’s decision to increase the capacity of the project to 900 MW is not transparent and has kept the locals in the dark. When the MoU was signed between the government and GMR, the project’s capacity was 300 MW. The petitioners have raised objection to the provision in the MoU that states the government acknowledges that due consideration may be accorded to GMR-ITD Consortium for the allotment of upstream/downstream project, if any.
“This may debar the Nepalis from using the water resources without prior consent of the developer,” reads the writ.
The defendant in the petition include Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Forest, Nepal Investment Board, Department of Electricity Development, GMR Energy and GMR Ltd Consortium.
Source : The Kathmandu Post