Compensation sought for Budhigandaki-affected areas

Kathmandu, October 31

The Budhigandaki Concerned Committee has urged the government to distribute the compensation amount to the remaining families affected by the 1200-megawatt reservoir project at one go within this fiscal year.

In a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Kamal Thapa today, the concerned committee has asked that the compensation amount be raised by 15 per cent if the government is unable to distribute compensation to all affected people within this year.

Affected people from only six village development committees (VDCs) of Dhading and Gorkha out of the 27 VDCs have received compensation from the government. The government had finalised the compensation amount in November and December of last year.

Moreover, the government has decided to freeze the land of the affected areas since one-and-a-half years. Similarly, it is yet to finalise the compensation amount for Arughat, Arkhet and Khahare of Gorkha district.

According to Hareram Dhakal, president of the concerned committee, the government has also not distributed the second tranche to the earthquake victims of the area. “We are not allowed to construct concrete buildings in the project affected area. Moreover, the government is yet to distribute the second tranche, although a decision related to it has already been taken,” Dhakal said.

The committee also urged the government to implement the decision forwarded by the compensation fixation committee, which includes resettlement, job guarantee to the affected people and ensures share of the project to the affected people.

Answering the representatives of the concerned committee, Minister Thapa said the government would promptly distribute the compensation amount in the remaining areas. “The government is serious on the issue of Budhigandaki. I will look into it and try to get a formal decision from the Council of Ministers to accelerate the project as soon as possible,” he said.

The government led by then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had decided to award the contract of Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project to a Chinese company — China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC). The memorandum of understanding regarding the project had been signed by the caretaker government at the very last moment.

The move had invited criticism from all fronts, with discussions held to scrap the agreement with the Chinese company and implementing the mega project utilising domestic resources. However, no formal decision regarding it has been taken yet.