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Kabeli power line project receives forest clearance

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 10, 2019-

The Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line Project has received forest clearance, allowing it to begin construction of the remaining 13 km of the 90.2-km power line which is touted as the backbone of the national grid in the eastern region. 

According to the project office, the provincial government has directed the forest office of Panchthar district to allow the project to cut down the trees that lie on the power line alignment. “We expect to receive approval from the district office within a few days,” said project chief Dipendra Raj Dwivedi. “We will start chopping down the trees immediately after we get the okay.” 

The project being implemented by the Nepal Electricity Authority needs to cut down 645 trees in the national forest and around 250 privately owned trees to pull electric cables. The project office needs to erect two towers and pull cables over a 13-km stretch to complete the transmission line project which consists of 263 towers. “It will take us a couple of months to complete the remaining construction work,” said Dwivedi. 

The construction of the 132 kV double circuit transmission line that extends across Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Tehrathum and Taplejung districts started a decade ago. It got bogged down by delays due to negligence of the contractor, obstruction by landowners, difficult terrain and belated permission for cutting trees.

Privately owned Hewa Khola Hydropower Project is losing out on Rs200 million in revenue annually as it can’t feed its entire production into the national grid due to the incomplete transmission line. 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. 

The developer has complained about having to incur heavy losses due to the holdup in the construction of the power line. The project faced a major hurdle at Siddhithumka, Deumai Municipality after locals refused to give right of way to string electric wires over their land. They were demanding 100 percent of the land value as compensation for easement rights, and obstructed the construction of 11 towers in the area.

The state-owned power utility had offered 10 percent of the land value 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 local representatives convinced the residents not to obstruct development activities and provide right of way as per the prevailing law. Locals, utility 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. 

Published: 10-01-2019 09:05

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