KATHMANDU, May 24: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Thursday directed the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Limited (UTKHPL) to revoke all decisions taken after February 26 regarding the project.
The anti-graft body, following a meeting with secretaries of the Ministry of Energy (MoE) and Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), managing director of Nepal Telecom (NT), chief administrator of Employees´ Provident Fund (EPF), and managing director of NEA, also directed the UTKHPL board to take decisions in accordance with the existing laws.
The NEA board had appointed Sunil Kumar Dhungel as the chief executive officer and MoE Joint Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki as a member of the UTKHPL board without taking consent from the UTKHPL board which also includes representatives from investors and creditors. An MoE source confirmed that Energy Minister Radha Gyawali had also summoned MoE Secretary Hari Ram Koirala earlier in the day and asked him to revoke the appointment of Dhungel.
Secretary Koirala, who is the ex officio chairman of the NEA board, refused to comment about the meetings with Minister Gyawali and CIAA but Dhungel confirmed that the CIAA decision has removed him from UTKHPL. “Everyone at the meeting in CIAA felt that the UTKHPL board was not taking decisions on its own and that decisions are being forced on them,” MoIC Secretary Avanindra Kumar Shrestha said. “The decision was taken to ensure that the authorities concerned create environment conducive for the UTKHPL board to exercise its authority,” secretary Shrestha added.
CIAA in its decision has taken exception to the UTKHPL board not holding necessary meetings required to solve the project related problems. Dhungel himself had informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament on May 8 that the 456 MW project scheduled to come into operation by March, 2016 is already eight months behind schedule.
Likewise, NT has refused to release funds for the project due to the delay in the selection of the management team through international competition as agreed in the loan agreement. Responding to the letter sent by UTKHPL seeking around Rs 90 million, NT had on March 28 pointed out that UTKHPL has not been able to select the management team as per the clause 14.2 of the loan agreement. The board meeting of UTKHPL on January 29 had decided that only Snowy Mountain and Engineering Corporation (SMEC) of Australia met the requirements but it has yet to appoint the management team.
NT has signed a loan agreement of Rs 6 billion, Employees´ Provident Fund (EPF) of Rs 10 billion, and Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) and Rastriya Beema Sansthan (RBS) of Rs 2 billion each for the 456 MW project. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will own 41% share of the project, NT 6%, CIT 2%, RBS 2%, general public 15 % and residents of Dolakha 10%, among others. The government has agreed to loan the remaining Rs 11.08 billion for the Rs 35.29 billion project.