Task force formed to look into Koshi Corridor problems

Kathmandu, January 13

A task force has been formed to solve the problems being faced by the Koshi corridor transmission line project in Dharan area, especially on the issue related to cutting down of trees that lie along the path of the corridor.

According to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), today, a task force has been formed under the coordination of Chief District Officer of Sunsari Prem Prakash Uprety. The team will submit its report to the Chief Minister of Province 1 Sherdhan Rai within a week.

The members of the task force include the project chief, an engineer at Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City, and a representative each from the stakeholders’ committee, contractor company and consultant company. It will also include representatives of all political parties at the local level.

The Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City has argued that the transmission line will have a negative effect on tourist areas in Ward No 20 where the problems regarding the project have surfaced. However, earlier the locals had been obstructing the project saying that approximately 9,000 trees would have to be cut down along the project’s path which would affect the environment.

According to Kul Man Ghising, managing director of NEA, locals and community forest societies of Sunsari district have objected to the construction of the 220 kVA double circuit transmission line.

Local residents and local government representatives from Ward 20 have stated that NEA has overlooked the earlier written agreement that it had signed stating that it would consider and take necessary steps while constructing the transmission line project. As a result locals have halted the construction works.

As per NEA, the issue of cutting down trees is not as serious as made out to be and now the local representatives are saying that it will hamper the tourism potential of the sub-metropolitan city. Moreover, based on the environmental impact assessment report and detailed project report, most of the works have already started and it is not possible to change the route of the project now, the NEA said.

Meanwhile in a discussion programme held in Dharan today, Chief Minister Rai stressed that the Koshi Corridor transmission line project needs to be constructed on schedule as Province 1 was planning to bring in more investment in the hydropower sector.

The affected section of the transmission line project, which extends from Inaruwa of Sunsari to Basantapur of Tehrathum district, is the Bhedetar to Jalkanya Community Forest segment. The locals of Dharan want the project to be constructed along the Bhedetar-Chulikot (Ghumaunedanda) to Khaire-Kokaha River-Bhaludhunga route.

The corridor passes through five districts including Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Dhankuta and Sunsari.

Similarly, the decision to set up seven towers in the Koshi River for Hetauda-Dhalkebar-Inaruwa 400 kVA transmission line has also been protested. The towers need to be set up by digging 40 metres into the river bed. There is no alternative to expanding the line through the river, as changing the route involves technical difficulties, as per NEA.

Meanwhile, Ghising said that changing the alignment of the project will have a long-term effect on development works. He said that NEA is ready to discuss ways of providing social security to the affected locals but urged them not to seek a change in the planned route of the project.

The 105-kilometre long Koshi Corridor transmission line is being funded by the Exim Bank of India which has pledged to provide $90 million. The corridor will include four substations at Tumlingtar, Baneshwor and Basantapur of Sankhuwasabha district and Inaruwa of Sunsari.