West Seti may no more be in national pride project list

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    west seti2KATHMANDU: The future of the 750 MW West Seti hydro power project hangs in balance, as discussions are being held on removing it from the list of national pride projects, owing to its slow progress.

    If such a step is taken, the future of the project undertaken by China Three Gorges Corporation will plunge into uncertainty as this would mean the project will receive very little government attention, further delaying its implementation.

    The idea of removing the hydro project from the list of national pride projects was floated during a meeting between Finance Minister Shankar Koirala and high-ranking officials of the National Planning Commission (NPC) before Dashain holidays, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Himalayan Times.

    “During the meeting, it was said there was no point in keeping the project in the list as no significant progress had been made. Also, it was not sure whether the Chinese company was really interested in building it,” the source said.

    NPC vice chairman Rabindra Kumar Shakya also confirmed that the meeting had taken place with the finance minister before Dashain holidays. “But we only talked in general about national pride projects and noted that there was no rationale behind keeping underperforming projects in the list,” Shakya said. Minister Koirala declined to comment on the issue.

    The government has so far identified 21 projects ranging from hydro and irrigation to railway and highway construction as national pride projects. This recognition ensures that resources are mobilised in time to ensure timely completion. This recognition also ensures that decision-making processes are put on fast track so that the projects do not face bureaucratic red tape.

    The West Seti project’s failure to cash in on these facilities apparently indicates its uncertain future, as it may never be able to take off if it is ultimately removed from the list of national pride projects. “But to remove the project from the list, a Cabinet decision is required,” the source said.

    West Seti project, which spreads across four districts of Doti, Dadeldhura, Baitadi and Bajhang, was expected to play an important role in lifting the economy of the comparatively underdeveloped far western region. Once completed, the project was expected to generate electricity for 24 straight hours throughout the year, except in dry season when power generating capacity would dip to eight to nine hours a day.

    But ever since the project agreement was signed with the Chinese company in February 2012, nothing much has happened, except for the arrival of a technical team from China in October last year.

    Officials of the Investment Board Nepal, which is overseeing implementation of West Seti project, told THT that another Chinese team had also arrived in Nepal during Dashain vacation. However, what took place during the meeting was not disclosed.

    Source : The Himalayan Times