NEA-handled hydropower projects short of expected progress 

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NEA-handled hydropower projects short of expected progress 

Kathmandu,19 Dec 2014: Progress on all the hydropower projects being developed by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is not satisfactory.

NEA-run projects are in a troubled condition and the NEA’s utter negligence, unnecessary political and trade union interventions and weaknesses in the bidding process are blamed for inviting problems in the construction of such projects. This has led to the creation of doubt over the completion of the Upper Trishuli 3 A, Rahughat, Kulekhani III and Chameliya Hydropower Project being handled by the NEA.

The 60-megawatt Trishuli 3 ‘A’ Project has so far witnessed only 46 per cent physical progress. The project which had to get completed a year ago shows no sign of completion within the next two years, the new deadline for completing it.  Project’s present cost stands at Rs nine billion.

The government allocated Rs 460 million this fiscal year for the project, which remained unspent till this date.

Similarly, the progress on the 32-megawatt Rahughat Project is poorer than of the Trishuli 3.  Although weak financial condition of the contractor was said be the reason for weak progress over the project, the NEA has till come up with a future plan to accelerate it. Of the budget of Rs 330 million released by the government in the first quarter of the current fiscal to it, a few portion (only around 40 million) has been spent so far.  Only 12 per cent progress on the project in over the five years of its launch has been the matter of surprise.

According to NEA executive chief Mukesh Raj Kafley, the NEA is effortful to clearing problems in the under construction projects.

Likewise, Secretary at the Ministry of Energy Rajendra Kishor Chhetri said the progress on the   projects is not as per the expectation and this has been imputed to obscurity in policy.   The Ministry has already been with the process of amending its polices to remove all sorts of obstacles and problems in construction of hydropower projects, he said.

The projects being developed by the NEA are on snail’s pace.

Minister for Energy Radha Gyawali said that the Ministry has already issued  directions to subordinate bodies to complete all the NEA-handled under construction projects on time.

The Kulekhani III and the Chameliya have the similar situation. The delay in the construction is expected to cost the project more. The project is estimated to cost Rs 2.3 billion.  Of Rs 430 million allocated in the first quarter for the project, almost all the amount has been spent, but work progress is not satisfactory.

The construction of Chameliya Project which was supposed to complete three years ago was dragged into controversy after contractors demanded more budget stating that its tunnel got shrunk. So far the total cost of the project has reached Rs 14.36 billion.

The Public Accounts Committee, confirming corruption in the project development, directed the Ministry to take action against its developers, the Ministry is yet to take a move to that end.

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By Ramesh Lamsal

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