Monday, September 2, 2013

Nepal: completion date of Three Gorges' West Seti Dam pushed back further

West Seti completion date pushed back further
Developer's fresh demands mean the project will now only be completed in
2021: IBN


Investment Board of Nepal (IBN) has said the much talked aboutWest Seti
Hydropower Project will be delayed by two more years, with CWE
Investment, a subsidiary of power developer China Three Gorges
Corporation (CTGC), demanding change in rehabilitation and resettlement
modality of the project.

IBN CEO Radhes Pant on Saturday said the CWE has now asked the
government to take over tasks of land acquisition and resettlement of
the project affected area although it had earlier agreed to carry out
those tasks itself.

A high-level official at the IBN said the CWE has been demanding more
time—one and a half years—to complete the project.

Energy Secretary Bishwo Prakash Pandit said the government is ready to
take up works related to land acquisition and resettlement but the
Chinese investor will have to bear the cost. As per the memorandum
signed between the IBN and CWE Investment, the project is scheduled to
be completed in 2019. The government will have to change the law to
address the request of the Chinese investors and it will take time, said
Pant. Speaking at a programme organised by GP Koirala Foundation, Pant
said it would be tough to act as per the request of the Chinese company
as the Nepali laws do not allow doing so. "The existing law should be
changed if the government takes over the responsibility of acquiring
land and managing resettlement," he said.

The existing Land Acquisition Act 1894 states that the government shall
provide the land if it is under its ownership, while the private
developer has to acquire the land on its own for any project development.

Energy Minister Umakant Jha said as the West Seti project was the only
remedy to end the ongoing power crisis, the government will make every
effort, including the revision in law for the project implementation.

The first memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry
of Energy (MoE) and the Chinese company on March 1, 2012 had envisioned
to initiate the project works from July 2014 and to complete by 2019.
The revised MoU signed between the IBN and CWE on August 27, 2012
retained the same time frame with an understanding that the Chinese
company will be given additional six months' as compensation to make up
for the time lost because of the interference into the project by then
Natural Resources and Means Committee (NRMC).

Pant said the IBN will soon hold a meeting with the CWE so as to discuss
on a number of issues, including land acquisition and resettlement,
optimitization of the project by making it a multipurpose one and to
hold studies on seismic condition of the project site. "The earlier
studies conducted by Australia's Snowy Mountains Energy Corporation
(SMEC) are not matured enough and separate seismological studies need to
be done so as to ensure every safety of the project area," he said,
adding, "Once power development agreement (PDA) with the project is
signed, both of us will have contractual obligations. So, all ground
works should be cleared before signing PDA."

Pant also added that the CWE writing an official email to the IBN has
asked the Board to come to China to discuss on those issues. "We will
soon fix a date to hold a meeting with CWE officials in China," he added.

The IBN, however, insist that the preparations to develop the 750 MW
storage-type project were under control with the possibility to
implement the project successfully. "It is our mistake to realise the
project overnight which has already been delayed by around two decades,"
Pant said.

The CWE has completed technical evaluation of the project on March 8 and
financial evaluation on July 30, 2013. Speaking at the programme,
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai said that the West Seti project
as a milestone for Nepal-China relationship and that his government and
the CWE were fully committed to realise it. He, however, stressed the
need to take into account multi-dimensional aspects with regard to the
field investigation, technical and financial evaluation and co-operation
from local people. He also requested the Government of Nepal and all
stakeholders to cooperate in the project implementation. "As the CWE has
already asked the IBN officials to hold talks, the unsettled issues will
be solved gradually," he said.

China has agreed to provide a loan worth $1.6 billion for the project
development. The agreement between the IBN and CWE has ensured 10
percent equity to the local population in the Far West, allocation of
150 MW of electricity from the project to the region and multipurpose
benefits from the project to the maximum extent economically possible.
The agreement has also explored new possibilities of developing an
industrial hub in the Far West with assistance from CTGC.

The Kathmandu Post, Posted on: 2013-09-01 09:13

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