Lack of policies delay transmission line

  • right-of-way conundrum
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 23, 2017-

Construction of over half a dozen transmission line projects of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has been delayed, as absence of appropriate policies has prevented the state-owned power utility from securing rights-of-way (ROWs) from private landowners. 

Construction of transmission line projects like 132kV Thankot-Chapagaun, 220kV Bharatpur-Bardaghat, 132kV Kabeli Corridor, 132kV second circuit of Middle and Lower Marsyangdi and 400kV Tamakoshi-Kathmandu is in limbo after the state-owned power utility failed to secure ROWs from private landowners to erect towers and pull electric cables.  

These transmission lines are of strategic importance as they help in evacuating energy generated by key hydropower projects to major load centres. 

The ROW refers to the land where transmission towers are erected and the corridor above which the electricity cables pass through.

Project developers generally purchase land where transmission towers are installed. 

But the land above which the electricity cables pass through is leased from private landowners. In return, compensation worth 10 percent of the land’s value is extended to owners as per the existing provision.

However, majority of owners of land above which electricity cables pass through have demanded the compensation amount be raised to 50-90 percent of the land value. Some have even demanded complete transfer of land ownership and compensation of 100 percent of the land value. 

Some are eager to transfer ownership of their land to developers of transmission corridors because no infrastructure can be built on such property. Also, trees cannot be planted on the strip of land--although plantation of crops is allowed--and banks do not accept such corridors as collateral. 

“It is high time for introduction of an appropriate policy to secure ROWs to build transmission lines,” said NEA Deputy Managing Director Rajeev Sharma, adding, “Further delay in acquisition of ROWs will definitely push back the completion dates of these projects.” 

Although Nepal is on track to achieving energy sufficiency with the total installed capacity of country’s hydropower projects expected to exceed 2,000 MW in next three years, lack of adequate transmission lines is likely to hinder evacuation and distribution of the generated electricity. 

The Energy Ministry, in January, had formed a taskforce to recommend a modality on securing ROWs from private landowners to develop transmission corridors, but it is yet to submit a report. 

The taskforce formed under the coordination of Pravin Raj Aryal, joint secretary at the ministry, has been asked to examine existing provisions and procedures on ROWs and make appropriate recommendations.

The task force is considering two options: paying one-time compensation equivalent to certain percent of the land value, or making annual rental payments--albeit discussions are still being held. 

Lately, securing ROWs for development of transmission corridors has become a major problem for NEA. It still has not been able to convince landowners at the site of 20km Khudi-Bhulbhule transmission line project, which will evacuate electricity produced by 50MW Upper Marshyangdi Hydropower Project. Earlier, similar problems cropped up while building Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line project. The construction of the project, which started in 2003, ended just a few months ago due to hassles in securing ROW. 

Published: 23-04-2017 08:09

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