West Seti Hydel Project: Govt team to visit Beijing for negotiation

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    The government is planning to negotiate with China Three Gorge Corporation (CTGC), the holding company of China Three Gorge International (CTGI) with whom it had signed a memorandum of understanding  (MoU) for the 750 MW  West Seti Hydroelectricity Project (WSHEP).

    A government delegation comprising top officials of Investment Board (IB) are visiting Beijing in the second week of August in this connection. The IB decided to hold talks with the CTGC after it recieved reply from CWE Investment Corporation. The government decision also follows questions over the MoU signed with the CTGI. The CTGC in its letter to IB has sad that the CTGI is one of its subsidiaries and its name has been recently changed to CWE Investment Corporation.

    “This visit is to develop high level confidence between the two sides,” said a senior government official. “There will be talks between the government and CTGC for West Seti.”

    The IB had received letter on Wednesday. The letter signed by CTGC Executive Vice-president Wang Shaofeng has asked the board to arrange a meeting for the negotiation with regards to further development of the project.

    “To expedite the development of West Seti Project, I invite the Investment Board to sort out the necessary issues and proceed ahead for its development,” the letter reads.

    Confirming the receipt of the letter on Wednesday, Investment Board CEO Radhesh Pant said that the Chinese company had asked the board to sit for further negotiation and prepare environment conducive for the project implementation.

    “The letter will be placed at the meeting of the internal committee formed for the project development and the date of the negotiation will be fixed very soon,” Pant said.

    The WSHEP had received the second lease of life with the signing of the MoU on March 1 after the government had scrapped the license of the previous power developer Snowy Mountain Energy Corporation (SMEC) of Australia.

    However, the singing MoU with CTCI attracted criticism from some members of the Parliment’s Natural Resources and Means Committee (NRMC). Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, at the time, had handed over the project to the IB for the further development as suggested by the NRMC. A four-member technical committee led by Pant had also been formed to begin the preparation, especially to incorporate the recommendations given by the NRMC during the negotiation with the Chinese company. The IB had asked the Chinese company to come for the formal negotiation for the further talks a month ago. “The letter came in response to our request to seat for the negotiation,” added Pant.

    Only a week ago, the CTGI had written to the government, asking for approval of the MoU signed with the Ministry of Energy as prerequisite for further negotiation. “We did not entertained that letter as it had demanded the approval of MoU without any revisions in it,” said a source familiar with the issue.

    The IB has been holding discussions to make West Seti a multi-purpose project as per NRMC’s recommendation. “We have been considering aspects that need to be included in the project to make it a multi-purpose one,” said Pant.

    A high-level official also said that pursuant to CTGC’s assurance to help Nepal get a soft loan from the Exim Bank of China, the board is also planning to ask for a larger loan to construct the transmission line simultaneously with the construction of the project.