Nepal | July 09, 2020

Local hassles create uncertainty for electricity supply to Bhairahawa SEZ

Pushpa Raj Acharya
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Proposed SEZ locations in Nepal

Graphics: THT

Butwal, December 16

Hassles created by the locals to set up the poles to instal the overhead power lines have pushed the works to supply power to the country’s only SEZ into limbo.

Lack of electricity supply in the industrial zone is an example of failure of inter-agency coordination. As per Bishwa Ranjan Mishra, western division in-charge of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the NEA leadership had urged the ‘Distribution System Augmentation and Expansion Project’ of NEA to make arrangements for electricity supply to Bhairahawa SEZ some three months back.

Since the NEA leadership instructed the project that is supported by the Asian Development Bank, the project has started the process for the right of way clearance to place the electricity poles. The project assisted by ADB has already developed 33 kV substation in Dhagdhagi of Rupandehi that is located at a distance of 15 km from the Bhairahawa SEZ.

“Electricity supply to the Bhairahawa SEZ was not in the scope of the project earlier, however, NEA leadership some three months back instructed the project to provide dedicated line to Bhairahawa SEZ from Butwal substation through Dhagdhagi substation,” said Mishra, “Following the instruction, we have initiated the works to instal 33 kV separate line to the SEZ from Butwal substation apart from another 33 kV line that was planned for local distribution from Dhagdhagi. But locals in five places in between Butwal Pragatinagar and Debdaha and Bekavar have been creating hassles to fix poles.”

Stating that it would only take two weeks at the most to complete the works, Mishra said that the local hassles have created uncertainty in supplying power to the country’s first SEZ.

The distance between Butwal substation to Dhagdhagi is around 30 km and the Bhairahawa SEZ is 15 km far from Dhagdhagi.

The ADB-assisted project will make arrangements to instal 33 kV double circuit line (40 megawatt) from Butwal to Dhagdhagi from its earlier plan of 33 kV single circuit line for local distribution. However, NEA is responsible to connect electricity from Dhagdhagi substation to Bhairahawa SEZ. NEA itself has to make the arrangements to instal electricity line from Dhagdhagi to Bhairahawa SEZ.

NEA has a long-term plan to connect Bhairahawa SEZ with 132 kV transmission line from Butwal via the bank of Tinau River, but it would take at least two years to implement the project, according to NEA officials. “Until the dedicated transmission line is built after two years, it will be difficult for the power utility to ensure reliable and adequate supply.”

However, Chandika Prasad Bhatta, executive director of SEZ Development Committee — which oversees the SEZs in the country — has said that the power utility has assured them to supply electricity to Bhairahawa SEZ from next month. To supply electricity to Bhairahawa SEZ altogether 45-km long distribution line needs to be built and there has not been any progress in this regard till date.

A version of this article appears in print on December 17, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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