Money

Hewa Khola losing out on Rs200 million in revenue

  • The 15 MW plant produces electricity worth Rs450 million annually, but its entire output cannot be transferred to the national grid over the existing 33 kV power line
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Dec 7, 2018-

Privately-owned Hewa Khola Hydropower Project is losing out on Rs200 million in revenue annually as it can’t feed the electricity it generates into the national grid for lack of adequate transmission lines. The 15 MW plant located in Panchthar in eastern Nepal produces electricity worth Rs450 million annually, but its entire output cannot be transferred to the national grid over the existing 33 kV power line.

“On average, we sell electricity worth Rs250 million annually to the Nepal Electricity Authority, incurring a loss of Rs200 million per year,” said Pushpa Jyoti Dhungana, managing director of the project. “We are bearing unbearable losses due to delays in the completion of the Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line.”

The Hewa Khola plant had planned on evacuating its electricity to the national grid over the Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line being developed by the Nepal Electricity Authority. The state-owned power utility is the sole buyer of electricity in the country.

The construction of the 132 kV double-circuit transmission line started a decade ago, but it is still incomplete. The promoters of the Hewa Khola project accused the staff of the Nepal Electricity Authority of incompetence, but the power utility shifted the blame to political instability, negligence of the contractor, obstruction by landowners, difficult terrain and delayed permission for cutting trees.

Currently, officials of the transmission line project are pointing the finger at the Department of Forest which is delaying issuing a permit to cut down 645 trees in the national and community forests. “We have to erect five towers and string cables on a 14-km stretch of the 91-km transmission line,” said Shushant Thakur, engineer for the project. “If we get the approval immediately, we can complete the task in a month.”

The Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line, which is touted as the backbone of the electricity transmission system in the eastern region, is divided into three sections. The first section stretching from Damal to Godak is ready, but the second section extending from Godak to Phidim, and the third section from Phidim to Taplejung are running late.

The power line project faced a major hurdle at Siddhithumka, Deumai Municipality after locals refused to give right of way to string electric wires over their land. Locals of Siddhithumka had demanded 100 percent compensation for easement rights and obstructed the construction of 11 towers in the area.

The Nepal Electricity Authority had offered 10 percent of the land value in compensation for 9 metres of land on either side of the transmission line as per the prevailing law, but locals turned it down.

The dispute was resolved after the elected local representatives convinced the residents not to obstruct development activities and provide right of way as per the prevailing law. Locals, Nepal Electricity Authority officials and local representatives reached a settlement during a meeting in March.

The power line will feed the power generated by hydroelectricity projects on the Kabeli, Hewa and Mai rivers in Panchthar and Taplejung into the national grid. The transmission line extends over various parts of Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Tehrathum and Taplejung districts.

Published: 07-12-2018 08:44

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