Construction of Koshi Corridor faces delay

Kathmandu, December 3

The Koshi Corridor — the transmission line corridor from Inaruwa to Taplejung — is facing problems in construction works due to issues related to cutting down of trees that lie along the path of the corridor.

The project will have to cut down approximately 9,000 trees along the corridor.

According to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the locals and community forest societies of Sunsari district have objected to the construction of the 220kV double circuit transmission line. “As the locals have been obstructing us in cutting down the trees the project has been halted in Sunsari,” informed Kul Man Ghising, managing director of NEA.

The corridor passes through five districts including Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Dhankuta and Sunsari.

Meanwhile, the NEA is obliged to complete the Koshi Corridor transmission line within the next one-and-a-half years to ensure that electricity that is generated by the various hydropower projects being built along the corridor can be connected to the national grid.

According to NEA, the 51-megawatt Mewa Khola hydropower project and 15-megawatt Maya Khola project that is being constructed by independent power producers will come into operation in the next 18 months. “If we are unable to build the transmission line on schedule we will then have to compensate 45 per cent of their production as we have included that provision in the Power Purchase Agreement with the respective developers,” Ghising added.

“What we have to understand is that we will be paying the developers for electricity that we will not even be using.”

The 105-kilometre long Koshi Corridor transmission line is being funded by the Exim Bank of India which has pledged to provide $90 million. The corridor will include four substations at Tumlingtar, Baneshwor and Basantapur of Sankhuwasabha district and Inaruwa of Sunsari. The fund also covers the 35-km long transmission line along the Tamor section that is under construction.

The second package of the Koshi Corridor project, which includes the construction of the aforementioned substations, has faced criticism as its contract has been awarded to the second lowest bidder which is against the Public Procurement Act. The act states that the contract must be awarded to the lowest bidder. Clarifying the issue, Ghising informed that as per legal provision, the contract can be awarded to any bidder as per the recommendation of donor agencies if such projects are being funded by them.

NEA had awarded the project to build the substations worth $25.30 million to the Indian contractor named Larsen & Toubro Ltd on July 11.

According to NEA, if there is delay in completing the Koshi Corridor then 250 megawatts of electricity will go to waste. Moreover, NEA has already signed Power Purchase Agreement to purchase nearly 1,000 megawatts of electricity from various hydropower projects being built along the corridor.