Progress of many national pride projects dismal

Kathmandu, January 17

Most of the projects prioritised by the government as national pride projects save one or two related to energy, water resources and irrigation have not been making meaningful progress.

The status of the performance of such projects except the Upper Tamakoshi hydropower project is not satisfactory. The government has listed 21 projects as ‘national pride projects’.

A report prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC) shows that the West Seti hydroelectricity project has not made any progress till date. The progress of this project remains almost nil since the last 21 years. The Chinese company Three Gorges, which was supposed to promote this project has returned citing differences regarding some technical issues.

The government had formed a task force comprising Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada and Chief Executive Officer of Investment Board Nepal (IBN) Maha Prasad Adhikari, to look into how the government can proceed with the project. The task force has not yet prepared a report.

Adhikari said that the report is in the final stages of preparation and will be presented in the IBN meeting in a few days. The report is being prepared under the coordination of Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Dinesh Kumar Ghimire.

Similarly, the overall physical progress of another national pride project — Budhigandaki hydroelectricity project — is 9.9 per cent and the financial progress only 10 per cent. This project has been much talked about since the last five years. The government has given the responsibility of holding consultations about the project with a Chinese company to the Ministry of Energy (MoE) and for preparing an appropriate modality of the project.

The MoE has held consultations with the Chinese company a few times. The task of distributing compensation for the land acquired for the project is in progress. However, the compensation for the land at Arughat Bazar of Gorkha and Khahare Bazar of Dhading district has not been determined as yet.

Nepal Oil Corporation has collected Rs 27 billion for the project. The project has so far distributed around Rs 20 billion as compensation to the project affected people.

Similarly, although around 97 per cent work of another national pride project, Upper Tamakoshi hydropower project, has been completed, its remaining work has not gathered any momentum after the hydro mechanical contractor could not carry out stipulated works of the project.

The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Nepal Electricity Authority and the project have assigned another company the responsibility to complete the construction works. The 456-megawatt project is making preparations to produce electricity commercially by mid-November.

Likewise, there is also problem in Sikta Irrigation Project. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has filed a case against the project after contractors, consultants and technical staffs of the project were not found fulfilling their responsibilities. Physical progress of the project, which is under construction for the past 12 years, is 56.7 per cent while financial progress is 56.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, construction of 10 kilometres of the 12-km-long tunnel of the Bheri Babai Diversion Project has been completed so far. Works of Babai Irrigation Project and Rani Jamara Kulariya Project have not been effective.