US investment in energy, transportation

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    America has started investment in energy and transportation sectors in Nepal through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Feasibility study of projects has been started through the Office of the Millennium Challenge Nepal (OMCN), formed with joint initiative of the Nepal government and MCC, that will remain under the National Planning Commission (NPC).

    The Finance Ministry and MCC have already signed agreement about investment of Rs 1 billion for selection of projects. “America has started investment in energy and transportation sectors in Nepal. The first stage of investment has started,” acting coordinator of the OMCN Tulsi Sitaula said. “We have been doing feasibility study for different projects of these two sectors and will finish the studies by coming February,” he added.

    The US government will provide grant totaling at least Rs 30 billion for projects found attractive by the studies. The OMCN is currently doing feasibility study for 400 KV Nanglebhare-Kathmandu-Naubise-Hetauda transmission line and Damauli-Butwal transmission line of same capacity. Similarly, feasibility studies for repair and rehabilitation of different roads with combined length of almost 2,000 kilometers are also being done. Sitaula said there is chance of constructing almost 200 kilometers of roads, and projects are being selected accordingly.

    The attractive projects will be selected by a committee led by finance minister and including representatives from stakeholder bodies and experts. The projects must be completed within five years of identification. The MCC has kept a condition and will take the remaining amount back if the projects are delayed. This is expected to address the long-standing problem of delay in completion of projects and subsequent increase in cost.

    Investment in Nepal will be done through the Millennium Challenge Account once comprehensive study, with an aim of alleviating poverty through economic development, is completed, according to the OMCN. Criteria for selection of the projects include construction period of five years at most, economic return of 25-30 percent, less social and environmental risks, possibility of involvement of private sector in operation and repair and maintenance, and gender inclusive development among others.

    Study is being done for upgradation of the 110-kilometer section of the East-West Highway from Pakali of Sunsari to Kakarbhitta of Jhapa to four lanes where vehicles can ply at a speed of at least 60 kilometers per hour. Similarly, upgradation of Butwal-Pokhara section of the Siddhartha Highway targeting tourism development, 92-kilometer Amiliya-Tulsipur-Salyan, 60-kilometer Silgudi-Sanfebagar and other roads are also being studied.

    Source : Karobar Daily