Call to ease legal hassles in hyropow er development

Kathmandu, March 14:

The government needs to simplify the legal provisions related to hydropower projects and environment for the smooth progress of

hydropower projects, suggested a study report prepared by Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal (IPPAN).

The report — ‘Legal Provisions on Forest and Environment related to Hydropower’ — raised the issue that the existing legal provision requires hydel projects to seek permission from more than one authority, including the Forest Department and Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation. This is one of the major obstacles to smooth progress and development of hydropower projects, the report says.

There are at least 27 legal provisions related to hydropower projects, ranging from Forest Act, Environment Conservation

Act, Electricity Act, Consumer Protection Act, Income Tax Act and Hydropower Development Policy, among others.

Hom Bahadur Rawal, an advocate who carried out the study, said the hydropower projects were listed under the industry having adverse impacts on environment and thus a lot of time is spent on Environment Impact Assessment.

The existing legal provisions deny vehicular movement of more than five tonnes inside the project area and do not allow the construction of huts and temporary settlements, according to the study. Other impractical rules include no permission to block rivers, mine sand from rivers and use explosives for construction, according to Rawal.

Besides these provisions, lengthy procedure to make power purchase agreement delays the projects.

IPPAN president Dr Sandip Shah said the construction of reservoir hydro-projects would not move ahead in a smooth manner unless the government comes up with clear resettlement policy. “There are plenty of issues — like culture, heritage, aquatic life, compensation for land — which need to be considered while constructing storage projects,” he said. Dr Shah

cited an example of Budhi Gandaki hydro-project, which failed to generate interest of any investor when a tender for its construction was called. “Storage projects are important to generate energy during the dry season,” he said.