Water Resources Meet: Nepal, India to talk Koshi High Dam

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    Top officials of Nepal and India are all set to deliberate upon crucial issues related to water resources and power during a bilteral meeting that kicks off in Kathmandu on Thursday.

    The two-day meeting of the Joint Commission on Water Resources (JCWR) at the Secretary level will dwell on bilateral issues varying from the Pancheshowr and Koshi High Dam Multipurpose Projects to the pending Power Trade Agreement (PTA) and construction of prospective cross-border transmission lines, among others.

    However the highlight will be matters related to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Koshi High Dam Multipurpose Project and the Sunkoshi Storage cum Diversion Scheme. The JCWR is set to extend the deadline to prepare the DPR by another two years. Although, the ministerial level  commission on water resources(JMCWR ) had last year directed officials of the two countries to prepare the DPR by February this year, the deadline was missed due to some unexpalined ‘technical delays’.

    “Both sides have recently agreed at the technical level to extend the deadline by two years and this will be approved by the meeting of the JCWR,” said NK Mathur, the commissioner at the Indian Water Resources Ministry and a member of the Indian delegation attending the JCWR meeting. A 10-member Indian delegation led by Secretary at the Water Resources Ministry Dhruv Vijaya Singh is attending the talks.

    Another bone of contention between Nepal and India has been the Terms of Reference (ToR ) of the Pancheshowr Development Authority (PDA). Though Nepal approved the draft of the ToR in 2009, India is yet to respond. It has been delaying the approval citing “technical reasons.”

    “The ToR of the PDA will soon reach the (Indian) Cabinet for final approval,” said Mathur.

    The Power Trade Agreement (PTA) is also set to feature during the talks. Nepal has already forwarded the PTA draft, which will open the avenue to buy/sell power from/to India, beyond the current arrangement under the Power Exchange Agreement. This arrangement has set the limit of a mere 50MW for exchange.

    Issues related to a cross-border transmission line connecting Muzaffarpur (India) to Dhalkebar (Nepal)–already under construction–and another one proposed to link Gorakhpur (India) to Butwal (Nepal) will also feature in the meeting.

    This is the seventh meeting of the JCWR. The last meeting was held in November 2011. A three-tier mechanism at the Minister level (JMCWR ) and Secretary level (JCWR ) as well as a technical one (Joint Standing Technical Committee) is in place to deal with bilateral issues related to water resources between the two countries.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post