Print Edition - 2015-01-21  |  MONEY

Infra projects’ fate hangs in balance

- GHANASHYAM KHADKA, Myagdi

Jan 20, 2015-The fate of under-construction 32MW Rahughat Hydropower Project and Beni-Athunge road upgradation remains uncertain, thanks to the government’s failure to monitor development activities.

The hydropower project is being developed under Indian loan assistance, while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has financed the road projects.

Only 35 percent of the work on the stalled road project has been over. If the project isn’t completed within March 2015, floods might sweep away construction materials at the project site.

The Rahughat project snagged after the contractor failed to carry out work due to its financial weakness. Now, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) plans to terminate the contract with the contractor—India’s IVRCL Infrastructure. India had awarded the project contract to IVRCL, but at a recent review meeting in New Delhi, the southern neighbour has agreed to go ahead with the contract termination.

Similarly, construction of a bridge over Dukhukhola along the Ratodhunga road section of the Beni-Darbang highway, a bridge over the Kali Gandagi River connecting Beni-Jomsom, and a culvert along the same highway has stalled for the past two years. Contractors selected by Department of Road fled away without completing the work.

“This is because of the failure of the authorities concerned to monitor the projects,” said Pramod Shrestha, executive member of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Construction of the private sector-initiated 4MW Ghalemdi Hydropower Project has been stalled due to obstructions created by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and Department of Forest. Over 200 workers have lost jobs.

A transmission line project along the Kali Gandagi corridor and construction of Dana Substation have also hit roadblocks due to land compensation issues.

“considering the development of hydropower projects in the area, we invested in hotels, restaurants, vegetables and animal farm. But now, the situation is depressing,” Tej Bahadur Gurung, president of Narchyang Jalsarokar Samuha. “Two hydel projects are under construction in Narchyang, while six more are in the pipeline.”

NEA’s plan to construct the Dana substation for the 220KV transmission line has yet to take off. This has made the fate of 16 hydro projects, including Myagdi Khola, Raghu Ghat Khola and Kali Gandagi corridor, uncertain.

“Initiating the construction isn’t enough. We have to pay interest as high as Rs 500 million to banks for the delay caused by the NEA,” said Dolendra Sharma, one of the promoters of the 42MW Mistri Khola Hydropower Project. “More than a dozen projects cannot move ahead without the transmission line.”

“Since the Dana substation is unlikely to be constructed in time, we are seeking alternatives for evacuating the power generated,” Kishor Subedi, president of Ghalemdi Hydropower Project.

Projects with a combined 468MW capacity have already got the approval, while an additional 403MW projects are awaiting the go-ahead. The under-construction projects have 78MW combined capacity.

Published: 21-01-2015 09:35

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