West Seti hydro project likely to fall in limbo

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    KATHMANDU, May 5: China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese power developer involved in development of much-delayed 750-megawatt West Seti hydropower project, has maintained conspicuous silence on development of the project in the last six months.

    “No communication has been held with the developer since last October,” a source privy to the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) told Republica.

    The corporation had dispatched a team of experts to conduct preliminary study of the project site last October. At that time, the team had promised to discuss future plans within next couple of months.

    “It has not shown much interest in the project since then,” the source disclosed. “IBN officials claim they had video conference with corporation officials but since nothing has materialized in more than six months we have no grounds to believe the conference–if it was ever held–was fruitful.”

    The IBN that received authority to facilitate project implementation from the government also confirmed that it has not heard from the corporation. “We are waiting for their response,” Radhesh Pant, chief executive officer of the IBN, told Republica over the phone on Saturday. “We are hopeful they will soon communicate and come up with a financial report.”

    The 18-year-old project has always made locals dream of a prosperous far western region–where the project is located. But the latest development has disappointed them as the project seems to be falling in a limbo even after the government established a separate high-level entity, IBN, to fast track the implementation of the mega project.

    “No one has shared any information about the project since last year,” Ratan Saud, president of West Seti Concern Group, a pressure group formed by locals, told Republica. “We are now worried about the future of the project.”

    Officials at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) also expressed pessimism about development of the project in the near future.

    “China is in the wait-and-see mood to make investment in Nepal as the country is going through a transitional phase,” a high-ranking OPMCM official said requesting anonymity. “It had expressed enthusiasm to invest before May 2012–before the demise of the Constitution Assembly on May 27. The Chinese developer´s mood has changed since then and is not that interested in project implementation.”

    Earlier, China´s Exim Bank had expressed interested to finance the project and had proposed Nepal to take commercial loans.

    West Seti is one of the priority projects of the government. Through this project, the government aims to supply up to 150 MW of electricity in the western industrial corridor, while the remaining power would be used to fulfill domestic power demand.

    Source : Republica