Initially, focus will be on preparation of the tender documents to select contractors
Kathmandu, July 29 The consultant for Tanahu Hydropower Project will begin preparatory works in a few days to kick-start implementation of the much-delayed 140-megawatt reservoir-type project. “The project manager and the team are arriving in Nepal soon. It will start conducting the preparatory works within this week or from first week of August,” said Sunil Kumar Dhungel, managing director of Tanahu Hydropower Ltd (THL), a state-owned special purpose vehicle formed to implement the project. On June 29, THL had formally appointed joint venture (JV) between Lahmeyer International GmbH Germany and Manitoba Hydro International of Canada as the consultant for the $505-million hydro project. The consultant for the project, funded by the government, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the European Investment Bank, was selected after a delay of over two years. The main tasks of the consultant would be to support THL in the areas of preparing tender documents, project administration and design, engineering services, management control and other technical aspects. The consultant has agreed to provide these services at a cost of $26.05 million for a total of 12 years, including one year of pre-construction phase, six years of construction stage and five years of operation stage. “Initially, the consultant will focus on preparation of the tender documents based on which contractors will be selected to build the hydro project,” Dhungel said. Although the consultant should have been selected in May 2013, the process was delayed after the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) launched investigation into the consultant selection process launched by ADB. The hydro case was picked up by the CIAA upon receiving a complaint from one Tirtha Kumar Shrestha of Tanahu, who pointed out flaws in the consultant selection process. Based on this complaint, the CIAA asked the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to review the selection process. The MoE then formed a five-member review committee under the coordination of its Joint Secretary Keshav Dhoj Adhikari. But since the report prepared by the committee could not solve the problem, a joint review committee was formed comprising ADB officials and representatives of Ministry of Finance (MoF) — which had mobilised $505 million to build the project — and MoE. The joint review committee then came out with a report saying it ‘did not come across anything that gives a firm ground to question the credibility of the ADB Consultant Selection Committee’. However, on December 17, Energy Minister Radha Kumari Gyawali surprised many by scrapping the consultant selection process. The minister’s move was severely criticised by MoF, as it ‘created uncertainty about implementation of the project’, which was crucial for the country facing long hours of power outage every day. The Cabinet on January 1, however, overturned the energy minister’s decision, paving the way for the ADB to give continuity to the project supervision consultant selection process.