Kathmandu, September 20:

Hydropower sector has been given second top priority after agriculture this fiscal year with Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai allocating Rs 12.69 billion to this sector —13 percent more than the revised expenditure last year.

A high-level power sector development committee under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ will be set up to realise the objectives of producing and

utilizing 10,000 MW hydropower in the next 10 years. It has also envisaged developing a 40-year national energy security policy based on national consensus.

The construction of run-of-the-river type projects, namely Upper Tamakoshi-456

MW, Upper Trishuli A-60 MW, Rahughat-30 MW and Naumure-245 MW, totaling 791 MW, will start this year. Likewise, work will be initiated to start construction of Upper Trishuli 3B-40 MW, Tamor-Mewa-110 MW, Upper Seti-127 MW, Dudhkoshi-300 MW, Tamakoshi 2 and 3-500 MW, West Seti-750 MW. These projects will generate a total of 1827 MW. However, the budget is silent when they will come into operation.

The budget has also discouraged the tendency of holding licence of power plants which have not been constructed even after reaching power purchase agreement with Nepal Electricity Authority.

To lure the private sector into the hydropower sector, the budget has exempted

the provision of taking permission for a power plant generating up to 3 MW of electricity.

Earlier, the ceiling for this was up to one MW. It has also said a power plant generating energy up to 50 MW of electricity would not need to carry out environment impact assessment (EIA) study.

Commenting on policies for water resources, a water resources expert said the provision of no licence for generation of up to 3 MW power plant would lead to “anarchy” in the absence of a regulatory body.

The water resources development committee within the concerned district should have been authorized to issue the licence to simplify the licencing process, he said and added that scotching the provision of carrying out EIA study on up to 50 MW projects would have a serious impact on the environment.