MAKAWANPUR, Aug 28:
The 220 kilovolt Hetauda-Bharatpur transmission line project is unlikely to be completed in even in the current fiscal as the construction work remain stalled for almost three months after the District Forest Office (DFO) of Makawanpur banned felling of trees in all the community and government forests in the district.
Stating that the monsoon is the appropriate time to grow new plants and herbs in the forests, the DFO on May 29 imposed the ban on felling trees for four months in compliance with the Forest Act-1993.
With the decision, the clearing of forests for the highly prioritized transmission line by the government came to a grinding halt.
In order to develop the transmission line as a power pool for the mid-western and western regions of the country, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), under the aegis of the World Bank, had started the project in 2009 and had aimed to accomplish it by 2012.
Though the NEA has requested the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation to let the project officials to resume felling of the trees, the ministry has not heeded the request yet.
As a result, the project is impeded, said Fadindra Joshi, chief of the project.
The 72-kilometer transmission line from Chauki Tole in Hetauda of Makawanpur to Bharatpur in Chitwan passes through dense forest areas in the two districts.
In Makawanpur alone, the transmission line will pass through 20 community forests.
“But so far, the felling of the trees has been completed in only eight forests in the district. We are waiting for a green signal from the ministry,” said Joshi, adding, the trees were cut down in Manakamana, Dipart and Sisnari hill, Lothar, Rupachuri, Pashupati, Baluwa Bhanjyang, Sikaribashpakha community forests.
An Indian firm named ICOMM Tele Limited has bagged the contract for the construction of the transmission line.
According to Ramesh Ghimire, an engineer for the project, over 50 percent of the tree-felling task under the project is yet to be completed.
Updating about the project, he said only 19 towers for the transmission line have been erected so far and the distribution of the compensation for the acquired land to the locals is likely to begin soon.
As much as 36 bigahas of land in Makawanpur was acquired for the project.
Though the DFO has banned the felling of trees, it has allowed the project officials to transport the felled trees to a safe place.
Under the project, as may as 226 towers have to be set up, and for the purpose, over 52,000 trees in the two districts have to be cut down.
“In Makawanpur district alone, over 24,000 trees are yet to be felled for the project,” said Ghimire.
The project is being constructed at an estimated cost of US 23 million dollars.
Source : Republica