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NEA mulls building 762MW project on Tamor River

- SHAHIMAN RAI, PANCHTHAR

Mar 19, 2017- Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has started conducting feasibility study of 762MW Tamor Hydropower Project, which, if constructed, would be one of the biggest in the country’s eastern region. 

The state-owned power utility is planning to build the storage project by erecting a 200-metre dam at Lumbuwaghat, which borders Panchthar and Tehrathum districts.

A preliminary report prepared by NEA says geographical location, social impact assessment and environmental conditions indicate that it is feasible to build the storage project in the area.

The Department of Electricity Development (DoED) in August 2013 had extended survey license to NEA to conduct various studies for development of 200MW project in Tamor River. Studies later showed that the project could be upgraded to generate 762MW of electricity.

In 1985, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) had proposed to build a 696MW hydroelectric project on the Tamor River by building a 153-metre tall dam. However, the government did not show much interest to build the project at that time.

Based on outcome of the study carried out by the Jica, NEA, in February 2012, had filed an application at the DoED to acquire the survey license. However, the DoED initially did not entertain NEA’s request, expressing fear the project would affect other projects like 38MW Kabeli A, 22MW Lower Hewakhola and 50MW Lower Tamor which had already obtained electricity generation licenses. Subsequently, NEA applied for a survey license for construction of a 200MW project in the same river, which was approved.

Though the construction of 762MW Tamor hydropower project would directly impact projects lying in the downstream with the possibility of inundation, experts have stated that larger national interest should be taken into account before taking the final decision.

Lila Nath Bhattarai, hydro mechanical engineer who has worked at NEA for a long time and has conducted thorough studies on storage projects, said the project should have installed capacity of 762MW project, as the scale of social and environmental impact is lower and the project development cost is not very high.

Bhattarai informed that Tamor River has the potential to generate 750-800 MW electricity and the proposed project could be built at a cost of around Rs200 billion. “Tamor high-dam project is crucial for the economic prosperity of eastern Nepal,” Bhattarai said. “The area which will be affected by the project has very few settlements and arable plots of land.”

The construction of Tamor hydropower project will also provide employment opportunities to locals in the east, and help in the development of the country’s industrial sector, he said.

Basanta Kumar Nemwang, former parliamentarian from Panchthar, stressed on the need to build the project even by compensating projects like Kabeli A and Lower Hewakhola, as the project can turn around the fate of the eastern region.

A concern group led by Nemwang, comprising parliamentarians from Panchthar, Tehrathum, Taplejung and Illam, has been exerting pressure on the government to build the project.

The members of the group have already met with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Energy Minister Janardan Sharma and NEA Managing Director Kul Man Ghishing, among others, and drawn their attention towards development of the project. 

Published: 19-03-2017 10:45

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