No progress in Pancheshwar project in two decades

March 12, 2018 09:06 AM RAJENDRA BHATTA


MAHENDRANAGAR, March 12: It has already been two decades since Nepal and India agreed to jointly develop Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project on Mahakali River in far-western Nepal. But the project is yet to enter construction phase.

The project was expected to generate more than 5,000 MW of hydropower -- 4,800 MW from the Pancheshwar project alone and 240 MW from Rupali Gad.

A survey conducted between 1993 and 1995 had concluded that the national pride project could produce up to 6,480 MW. But another survey conducted thereafter showed that 4,800 MW of could be generated.

As per the Mahakali Treaty, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project was to be prepared within the first six months of the agreement, arranging resources for construction within a year, and complete construction of the project within eight years. However, the two countries have not been able to prepare the DPR alone.

Although the Nepali side has prepared the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, which took 11 years to complete, the same has not been completed from India’s part.

According to Dilip Kumar Saraula, executive director (environment) of Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA), Nepal completed the study report in 2011 itself.

The EIA Report shows that the project will submerge 102 villages in Nepal, displacing 2,930 households. The 300-meter tall project’s dam to be constructed at an altitude of 680 meters will submerge nearly 90 km of land stretching from Dattu in Darchula which 65 km upstream of the dam Pancheshwar dam to Rupali Gad, 25 km south of the dam, where a 83-meter tall regulating dam will be built.

The project will also affect 2,800 hectares of forest land, and 658,000 trees will have to be felled, according to the report. The project will submerge 11,600 hectares of land -- 4,000 hectares in Nepal and 7,600 hectares in India - of which 2,000 hectares is cultivable land. 

The mega project will irrigate 13,000 hectares of land in Kailali and Kanchanpur districts.

Indian company WAPCOS Ltd has prepared draft DPR of the project. But it is yet to be finalized as Nepal has expressed reservations on some points. 

Two meetings between officials of both the countries to finalize DPR have ended without conclusion. Now, preparation is going on to hold third meetings to resolve all issues related to the DPR, according to Saraula.

He also added that Pancheshwar Development Authority and the Uttarakhand State government of India were preparing policies or rehabilitation of people to be displaced by the project in Nepal and India, respectively.

The two governments signed Pancheshwar Project on February 12, 1996.

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