West Seti Project: Chinese firm agrees to revise MoU

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    The long-standing dilemma over securing investment from China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) in 750-MW West Seti Hydroelectricity Project ended on Saturday with the Chinese company finally agreeing to revise the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that it had signed with the Nepal government.

    Nepali officials involved in the negotiation with CTGC in China said that the Chinese company also agreed to send its high-level delegation to Nepal within two weeks to revise the MoU and begin works towards the project development.

    A three-member Nepali negotiating team, led by Energy Secretary Hari Ram Koirala, had left for China on Tuesday to ensure investment from the Chinese corporation and prepare grounds for the MoU revision. Investment Board (IB) CEO Radhesh Pant and Rameshwor Khanal, Prime Minister’s economic advisor, were the other members of the Nepali talk team. The Nepali team held talks with Chen Fei, president of CTGC and the company’s board members.

    “Our talks with the CTCG officials came to a fruitful conclusion as they agreed to revise the MoU signed previously and put their investment in the project,” said Pant of the IB, which has been assigned to develop the project.

    Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Energy (MoE) Arjun Kumar Karki and CTGC Executive Vice-president Wang Shaofeng had signed the MoU some six months ago. However, stating the deal was non-transparent and the MoE officials abused authority, the parliamentary committee had probed into the matter and directed the government to hand over project development responsibility to the Investment Board. During the discussion with the China Exim Bank and China Development Bank on Thursday and Friday, the banks have also expressed interest to invest in the project and to provide additional soft loans for the construction of a transmission line. “We held talks on completing both hydropower and transmission line simultaneously so that the electricity generated could be linked to the national grid immediately,” said Pant.  “The bank has shown positive response.”

    As per the previous MoU, there would be 25 percent share from the NEA and 75 percent from the Chinese company, with a provision to allocate 2-5 percent of share to the local people. “We have asked the CTGC to increase the share for the locals as per the NRMC’s recommendation,” added Pant. The team also asked the CTGC officials to make West Seti a multi-purpose project. IB had previously proposed making West Seti a multi-purpose project with the development of irrigation system, fishery and water transportation.

    Source : Ekantipur