Investment Board Nepal (IBN) has proposed setting up an integrated security mechanism at the National Security Council to protect the property of the under-construction Upper Karnali Hydropower Project which has been repeatedly attacked by vandals. The council is chaired by the prime minister.

    The board proposed setting up the mechanism during a meeting attended by representatives of the security forces of the Mid-Western and Far Western regions.

    The regional administrator, chief district officer and representatives of the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were present at the meeting.

    “We discussed matters related to the project and the security of its staff, in particular, during the meeting,” said Radesh Pant, chief executive officer of IBN.

    “A serious discussion was conducted about the frequent attacks on the project’s property,” he said, adding that they had asked the government to set up an integrated security mechanism. He said that the National Security Council would decide the form of the mechanism.

    Repeated vandalism could affect the project. On March 8, an unidentified group torched a jeep belonging to GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Limited which is building the 900 MW project.

    Pant urged local stakeholders not to harbour negative thoughts about the project as it is being developed not only with the investment of GMR Energy Limited, the energy arm of the GMR Group of India, but also with funding from the World Bank and Nepali investors.

    “As per the meeting’s conclusion that an integrated security mechanism would be the right option to prevent vandalism at the project, we have decided to propose setting up such a mechanism to the council,” said Ghanshyam Ojha, consultant to IBN.

    He added that a resettlement plan for locals affected by the project had been completed. “We will start the land acquisition work next Friday.”

    According to Ojha, European banks have promised to provide Rs100 billion to the project developers. The donors are scheduled to arrive in Nepal in April to provide the committed funds, he said.

    The government and GMR signed a power development agreement (PDA) in September 2015 for the construction of the project. It is spread over three districts—Surkhet, Dailekh and Achham.

    The project developer will give 27 percent of the shares to the Nepal government and the country will also receive 12 percent (108 MW) of the energy produced free of cost. Similarly, the project is expected to provide jobs to more than 2,000 people, and the government is projected to earn financial benefits of Rs300 billion.

    The project will be acquiring 48.85 hectares of private land and 207.75 hectares of government-owned land. It will affect an estimated 239 households, 46 of which will have to be provided rehabilitation schemes. The construction of the project is targeted to be completed by 2021 and it is estimated to cost Rs145 billion in total.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post