Nepal | September 25, 2020

Land compensation for Budhigandaki hydel at almost Rs 34 billion so far

Himalayan News Service
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KATHMANDU, AUGUST 4

Budhigandaki Hydropower Project has so far distributed almost Rs 34 billion in land compensation.

Though compensation for a majority of the land to be affected by the hydropower project has already been distributed, affected locals have been agitating at Gorkha’s Aarughat and Aarkhet, and Dhading’s Khahare bazaar demanding that the land affected by the project be repaired. As a result, the entire project development process has been affected due to the land compensation dispute which is yet to be resolved completely.

“The land compensation process is still ongoing and will be settled soon,” informed a source at the Ministry of Energy (MoE). As per the ministry, of the 58,153 ropanis of land that the project covers, the government had completed compensating for 47,439 ropanis of land by the end of the last fiscal year and the energy ministry plans to provide compensation for the remaining land within the next few months.

Officials at MoE said that the problem at present is the delay in finalising the construction modality of the project rather than the land compensation issue.

Though it has been long since the government decided to construct the 1,200-megawatt hydropower project through its own resources, the government has not been able to take any concrete decision on the project development front.

Nearly a year after the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government scrapped the contract with China Gezhouba Group Co Ltd (CGGCL) for the construction of the Budhigandaki Hydropower Project, a national pride project, the government in September 2018 had decided to award the contract for the project to CGGCL again. Though the government then had sought a letter of intent from CGGCL, the Chinese company has not been in communication with the government since long.

A faction in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) wants to allow the Chinese firm to develop the project while another faction maintains that the project should be developed by bringing in investment from some reputed foreign company. This division within the ruling party has led to the delay in finalising the modality of the hydropower project. Some leaders within the ruling party have been saying that CGGCL should not be given the project as the company does not have an impressive project development history in Nepal.

The government had also discussed developing the hydropower project through Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing (EPCF) modality where the contractor is not only responsible to engineer, procure and construct the project, but also has to finance the project. However, the government has not reached any conclusion on it.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 5, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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