Energy Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi on Thursday told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that a ‘quick and decisive’ step would be taken to complete all the energy projects facing longstanding execution hurdles.

    He added that a number of transmission line projects had stalled due to various controversies, resulting in a huge financial burden to the government. “Hence, the projects will be taken ahead at any cost,” he told lawmakers.

    Major projects like the 220/400 kV Khimti-Barhabise transmission line, 220/400 kV Barhabise-Kathmandu transmission line, Barhabise substation and 220 kV Dana-Kusma transmission line and substation have been awaiting clearance from the concerned authorities for a long time.

    There is a practice of halting the project for a long time if any controversy arises. “Now the government will not stop projects over such issues,” he said, adding that action would be taken against wrongdoers and development projects simultaneously.

    The 132 kVA Solu Corridor transmission line project has lain immobile for more than two years due to a dispute regarding the process of selecting contractors.

    The project became engulfed in controversy after the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) refused to award the contract to the lowest bidder, a joint venture of Jaguar Overseas Limited and BS Limited, saying that it had quoted the price in Indian currency which is inconvertible.

    Last August, the NEA board gave the contract to Mohan Energy Corporation out of the eight bidders for the project. It had quoted a price of $23.07 million which is higher than what Jaguar Overseas and BS had quoted. Subsequently, a complaint was filed at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) over the selection process. The then energy minister Radha Gyawali and NEA officials got mired in controversy after the CIAA said that the selection process had been faulty.

    The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the CIAA’s decision was wrong, and the NEA issued a letter of acceptance to Mohan Energy on March 25 while the agreement was signed on April 5.  On April 8, the NEA board sent the agreement document to Exim Bank of India for its final approval. The bank is financing the $250 million project.

    Energy Secretary Suman Sharma said they had selected the contractor on the basis of the report submitted by a government evaluation committee.

    Mukesh Raj Kafle, executive director of the NEA, told PAC that there was nothing wrong in the contractor selection process. The PAC meeting on Thursday decided to hold further discussions on the issue.

    On January 3, 2014, the Energy Ministry had assigned the NEA to build the Solu Corridor. The 88.4-km-long transmission line will supply 352 MW of electricity to the energy-starved eastern part of the country.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post