KATHMANDU, DEC 01 – A high-level committee formed to recommend on whether to increase the capacity Upper Trishuli A Hydropower Project (60MW) has suggested that it would be appropriate to increase the capacity by 30MW.
In line with the Ministry of Energy (MoE) agenda, which has been pushing for upgradation of the project since mid-June, the committee headed by MoE Joint Secretary Moti Bahadur Kunwar suggested both the options—sticking to original plan of 60 MW and upgrading to 90 MW—’are feasible’.
NEA officials, however, say the committee’s dual recommendation ‘is a ploy’ to expand the project’s capacity to 90 MW.
Kunwar-led committee is the third of its kind formed by the ministry on Upper Trishuli 3A. Two earlier committees had said capacity upgradation of the project would be inappropriate—both technically and financially.
Upgrading the project to 90MW as suggested by the Kunwar committee is what Chinese contractor China Gezhouba Group Co is also seeking. The Chinese company has been asking the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for project’s upgradation.
MoE sources say the ministry is planning to forward the proposal to the Cabinet soon.
The committee report has suggested the project can be upgraded to 90MW by taking approval from the Ministry of Finance, National Vigilance Centre, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and Public Procurement Monitoring Office.
Most of NEA board members are against the upgradation, which they estimate will cost an additional Rs 4 billion and delay the project by two more years.
According to the NEA officials, the capacity upgradation does not contribute much to resolving the power shortage, as the additional energy will be available only during the wet season.
“The upgradation will benefit the contractor and its local agent only,” said an NEA official. “The project’s capacity upgradation is against the Public Procurement Act and EPC model based on which the project is being developed.”
The Chinese contractor has been pushing for the upgradation ever since it clinched the contract. However, previous energy ministers—Prakash Saran Mahat, Gokarna Bista and Posta Bahadur Bogati—had rejected its demand.
Sources say the top leadership of the Energy Ministry is in favour of the upgradation. MoE officials have been accusing Energy Secretary Hari Ram Koirala of single handedly pushing the upgradation agenda despite strong opposition from other ministry officials and stakeholders.
Source : The Kathmandu Post