Print Edition - 2015-05-28  |  MONEY

Pancheshwor project slows to crawl after initial burst

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

May 27, 2015-When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his visit to Nepal in August last year that the much delayed Pancheshwor Multipurpose Project would move ahead within a year, the atmosphere had turned jubilant. The authorities and all the stakeholders were enthused and worked vigorously to expedite the construction of the project as per schedule.

There were a couple of significant achievements like the formation of the Pancheshwor governing body comprising Nepal’s energy secretary and India’s water resource secretary. Another big development was the endorsement of the statute to govern the Pancheshwor Development Authority in September 2014. Two rounds of meetings of the governing bodies have been held in Kathmandu and New Delhi respectively.

However, no significant development has taken place since then, particularly due to Nepal’s indecision. One of the crucial decisions the governing body had taken while endorsing the statue was forming the executive committee at the earliest possible. Pursuant to the decision, the Indian side appointed two officials in March 2015, including an additional CEO and a technical director.

Nepal is responsible for filling four positions including the chief executive officer (CEO) in the development authority that has eight vacant positions. Apart from this, Nepal also has to appoint three executive directors—administration, legal and environment—while India has to fill the posts of two executive directors—finance and resettlement and rehabilitation. The project which seemed to have taken a great start has now come in the midst of sever politics with the Nepali side failing to make any appointment so far. The Indian side, on the other hand is awaiting Nepal to fulfill two positions.

“The appointment of the CEO has not moved ahead due to extreme politics. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the project was supposed to be prepared within one year. Sadly, it seems it will take a year just to recruit the staffers,” a high level official at the Ministry of Energy said.

According to the source, Energy Minister Radha Gyawali had proposed to the Cabinet to appoint Mahendra Bahadur Gurung, a former joint secretary at the Ministry of Irrigation. The proposal was rejected. Since then, no significant headway has been made to fill the vacant posts, even though the names of a few hopefuls came popping up. “We have a tendency of making each and every appointment political,” the source said, adding that political influence had severely harmed development.

The source added that Wapcos Limited of India had been working on the DPR alone for lack of officials from Nepal. The governing council meeting held in Kathmandu had assigned Wapcos to upgrade data for the integration of the detailed project reports prepared separately by Nepal and India.

“Each and every detail was supposed to be studied by the development authority. However, there are no officials from the Nepali side,” the source added.

However, Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri said that the ministry had already narrowed down the possible candidates and the matter would be taken to the Cabinet very soon.

“We waited for some time as we wanted to appoint all the four officials simultaneously,” Kshatri said, adding the governing body was keen on making the project operational by appointing the necessary people at the earliest.

Once the executive body is formed, it will work on the project’s financial regulations and administrative bylaws which will also comprise issues like facilities and incentives for the Pancheshwor staffers. According to Kshatri, the regulation and bylaws have to be endorsed by the governing body.

Published: 28-05-2015 07:23

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