Half of national pride projects underperforming

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
Half of national pride projects underperforming

Nov 15, 2014-

Progress of half of the national pride projects has not been satisfactory as result of inadequate preparation and problems related to land acquisition and contractors, the government has concluded.

A review meeting between secretaries from six ministries and National Planning Commission (NPC) officials concluded only 10 of the 21 national pride projects are performing well. Progress of five out of six road projects, three irrigation projects and two hydropower projects has been termed satisfactory.

“Categorisation of projects without proper criteria, lack of proper monitoring, failure to acquire land in time and lack of coordination among government agencies were among the problems identified during the review, “said Gopi Nath Mainali, joint secretary at NPC.

Among the six road and one railway projects under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, progress of five road projects, including in Mid-Hill Highway, Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track and all three North South Roads, were found satisfactory.

“Work on postal highways has been disappointing after the contractor fled about a year ago,” said Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, who also attended at the review meeting. “We have little control over work on postal roads as India, the financer, has itself been administering the project.”

Due to poor progress of the postal road’s first phase under the existing model, Nepal has asked the Indian government for an arrangement, under which the Nepal government would administer the project in the second phase. The southern neighbour has taken Nepal’s request positively.

As far as the progress of East-West Electric Railway is concerned, it is facing resources crunch, according to Sitaula. “In fact, the project was first included on the third priority list, but was brought under the national pride project list later,” said Situala. “We have also faced land acquisition-related problems.”

Progress of Mid-Hill highway has been good, but it is facing land acquisition problems in some places. For the Fast Track project, the government on Saturday invited the Request for Proposal from three selected bidders. The ambitious project is also facing land acquisition problem in Khokana, Lalitpur.

Among the four irrigation projects, progress of three, including in Sikta, Rani-Jamara-Kulariya and Babai has been satisfactory. But progress of Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project has been disappointing, according to Mainali. “Not more than Rs 80 million has been spent in this project  over the last three years as the contract had to be awarded several times,” he said.

Among hydropower projects, 456MW Upper Tamakoshi and 600MW Budhigandaki has been performing well. Work on Upper Tamakoshi has been moving forward largely uninterrupted, with 70 percent of the work over.

The Budhigandanki project, which the government is developing through under the development committee model, has seen progress in preparatory work. France’s Tractebel Engineering recently submitted a draft of the updated feasibility study, which, according to a project official, has suggested increasing the project’s capacity to around 1,000MW.

Although the work is moving ahead smoothly on Melamchi Drinking Water Project, the progress has not been as expected, with the contractor digging the tunnel at the rate of 22 meters a day, against the target of 37 meters.

Second International Airport in Nijgadh is yet to maintain its boundary. According to Mainali, progress of West Seti, President Chure-Tarai Madhes Preservation Project, Pashupati Area Development Trust and Pokhara Regional International Airport has not been satisfactory.

Published: 16-11-2014 09:33

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