Kathmandu, April 27
The secretary-level meeting between Nepal and India has extended the deadline to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) to December.
The DPR of the project is being prepared by Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) Ltd, an undertaking of the Indian government that falls within the purview of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWRRDGR).
As per Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, joint secretary and spokesperson for Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation (MoEWRI), both nations have agreed to resume fresh negotiations to give life to 4,800-megawatt Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, which is located in the far-western region of Nepal.
The sixth meeting of the governing body of the Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA) was held here on Thursday to provide momentum and finalise the DPR of the project as soon as possible. The last meeting of the PDA governing body was held in New Delhi on December 22, 2016.
Mahendra Gurung, CEO of PDA, informed that the Nepali delegation was led by Sanjay Sharma, secretary at MoEWRI and the Indian delegation was led by Upendra Prasad Singh, secretary at the MoWRRDGR. “We must finalise the DPR of Pancheshwar project within this year, and we are committed to meeting the set deadline,” Gurung stated.
Meanwhile, the meeting also fixed a budget of Rs 360 million for this year. Although a budget of Rs 295 million was allocated to expedite the project works last year, only 20 per cent of the allotted fund was spent.
Likewise, the governing body also emphasised on preparing the policy documents, final bylaws, administration policy and human resources policy of the PDA as soon as possible.
The meeting also decided to extend the tenure of the ‘team of experts’ till September this year. The tenure of the team of experts had expired in September last year. Meanwhile, it was also decided that a meeting of the team of experts will be held in May this year.
The meeting also directed the sub-committee that had been authorised to settle the contentious issues regarding water allocation and power purchase to speed up their works so that the DPR of the project could be finalised within the deadline.
The Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project was conceived under the Mahakali Treaty between Nepal and India in 1996 and got a fillip during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal in 2014, paving the way for the formation of the PDA to finalise the project.
Apart from generating electricity, the project will provide irrigation facility to 0.24 million hectares of land in India and 0.13 million hectares in Nepal in addition to other incidental benefits, including flood protection. The project will have two dams for India and Nepal working in tandem.
Nepal and India had signed an agreement to this effect during the visit of then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to India back on February 12, 1996. Although the two countries agreed to finalise the project DPR within six months and complete construction works within eight years, Nepal and India have failed to finalise DPR till date due to disputes over water-sharing and the benefits accrued from the project.
According to Gurung, the meeting also finalised regulations of the staffers working at the PDA. “My tenure will be over in June and the next meeting of the team of experts will select the new CEO of PDA, who will be from India as per the agreement,” he stated.
A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.