Govt to offer 7% shares of Upper Karnali to locals
KATHMANDU, April 23: The government has proposed seven percent shares out of the 27 percent free equity given by developers of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project to the locals.
The Ministry of Energy (MOE) on Sunday told a meeting of the energy sub-committee of the parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means that the government had considered the option to cultivate a sense of ownership among the locals. The project affects locals of Surkhet and Dailekh districts of Mid-Western Region and Achham of Far West.
"We will provide shares at face value as it is a commercial company," Joint Secretary and Spokesperson at the MOE Arjun Karki told the meeting. Most companies in Nepal have floated shares at a face value of Rs 100.
Speaking at the meeting called provide updates on the Upper Karnali and Arun III projects, Karki opined that locals would benefit more if the shares were allotted after the start of electricity generation.
Karki said the two projects had seen obstructions mainly from two groups - political parties and those opposing for the sake of opposition. He opined that the government could ignore the second group of protestors and move ahead but trust should be built among the parties to resolve the political problem of Upper Karnali project.
A group of around 30 people, reportedly led by Maoist cadres, had barged into the contractor GMR offices at Paltada, Dailekh on May 22 last year and set fire to three buildings. The construction work at the site has since been halted despite the government deploying Armed Police Force (APF) for security later in the year.
The 900 MW project has now been delayed due to lack of power development agreement (PDA) which the MOE has been working on for the past few months. GMR had agreed to provide 12% free energy to the government and evacuate the rest when the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed four years ago, identifying the project as export-oriented. But GMR officials have repeatedly said the company is willing to sell all the remaining energy on an economically feasible rate to Nepal government if it so wished.
"GMR has already proposed to dig the entry tunnel. It has been delayed due to our problem," Karki stated. Parliamentarians of other parties said the company should address the valid demands of locals to move the project ahead but Maoist lawmakers have been opposing the project. "The government gets free energy and equity from Upper Karnali project. What do the locals get?" Maoist lawmaker Dabal Bahadur Shah said at the meeting.
The lawmakers also took exception to GMR´s provision for construction of other upstream and downstream projects in the river. Karki said the MOE will remove such provisions, if any, through the PDA.