SC vacates stay on Upper Karnali

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    supreme_court_buildingKATHMANDU: Vacating its 20-day old stay order, the Supreme Court today gave a go-ahead to the construction of 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project.

    A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Damodar Prasad Sharma and Justice Prakash Osti vacated the stay order following today’s hearing.

    “The disputes raised by the writ petitioners shall be decided after the final hearing, hence there was no need to continue the temporary stay order issued on July 23,” the bench observed.

    Citing the seriousness of the issue, the bench issued a priority order for the final hearing on the writ to be conducted within 15 days of the registration of written explanations by the defendant government authorities.

    The apex court has sought explanations from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Department of Electricity Development, GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Ltd and GMR Consortium on why went ahead with the hydropower project ignoring questions raised by the locals over the construction of the project.

    The bench scheduled the hearing of the case, along with another writ petition filed by Gorakh Bahadur BC, challenging the construction of the largest hydropower project in the country.

    The apex court had stayed the implementation of the Detailed Engineering Report and the Project Development Agreement signed for development of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project.

    A public interest litigation was filed by Chakra Bahadur Roka and other locals from Dailekh, Bajura, Dang, Baitadi, Jumla and Salyan. They argued that the project infringed upon the rights of the locals to take a decision on development of the region and serves the interests the multinational company, GMR Ltd, at the expense of locals’ interests.

    Source : The Himalayan Times

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    SC opens way for moving Upper Karnali forward

    KATHMANDU, Aug 11

    The Supreme Court has opened the way for moving the 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project forward allowing the Investment Board (IB) to proceed ahead with the power development agreement (PDA) negotiations with GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Limited.

    The project was facing uncertainty after the single bench of Justice Bharat Bahadur Karki on July 23 issued an interim ordered not to proceed ahead with the PDA negotiations. A joint bench of Acting Chief Justice Damodar Sharma and Justice Prakash Basti oin Sunday revoked the interim order stating that all the decisions about the project will be taken at the time of final verdict. “There is no need to give continuity to the interim order issued on July 23, 2013 as the issues raised by the applicants will be addressed at the time of verdict,” the order reads. Thirty locals of Humla, Jumla, Kalikot, Mugu, Bardiya, Kailali, Accham, Surkhet and Dailekh had moved the court on July 14 demanding that the agreement between the government and GMR be annulled.

    The first hearing on the writ petition had called both the parties for discussions keeping the agreement as it is. Attorney General Drona Raj Regmi argued during the second hearing that development work was intended to be obstructed in the name of locals. He had called for revocation of the interim order claiming that the latest writ filed after the application of Gorakh Bahadur BC was dismissed earlier showed that there was intention of obstructing the project. Senior advocates Shambhu Thapa, Harihar Dahal, Anil Kumar Sinha and others had argued on behalf of GMR. The Supreme Court had earlier ordered that the agreement between the government and GMR need not be approved by two-third majority of the parliament. The writ application stated that the company’s offer to provide only 12 percent of energy to Nepal is against the Public Procurement Act and argued that the agreement lacked transparency as there were no standards and arrangements for GMR to sell the generated electricity to India. It had sought blocking of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and PDA claiming that the survey license given to GMR and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the government are illegal.

    Nepal will get 108 MW (440 million units a year) of electricity from the day the project comes into operation as per the agreement signed on January 24, 2008. Similarly, free equity of 27 percent, equivalent to around Rs 9.33 billion, will also be provided. Nepal will earn US$ 2.80 billion during the contract period and billions of rupees from royalty. The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and GMR had signed joint investment agreement in February, 2008, the Ministry of Industry had given permission for foreign investment in April, 2008, and the company was formed in the same month. GMR had submitted DPR in May, 2010.

    The then Ministry of Water Resources, now Energy Ministry, had awarded the project to GMR in build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model after the company expressed commitment to provide more free energy and equity to the government during an international free competition. GMR and Italian Thai Development Company Limited (ITD) of Italy have jointly invested in the project with an estimated cost of over Rs 90 billion.

    Source : Karobar Daily(website)