Locals in Sankhuwasabha district have urged the energy minister to begin construction work of the 1,061-megawatt Upper Arun Hydropower Project at the earliest.

The half-reservoir hydropower project is likely to be constructed at Chonggrak of Bhotekhola Rural Municipality in Sankhuwasabha district. A high-level team led by Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal visited the construction site today where the locals had placed a request for the same.

Locals assured full cooperation to the team comprising representatives from the Ministry of Finance, World Bank and secretaries of the concerned ministries for construction of the hydropower project.

Stakeholder forum's Chair Ladar Bhote said that they were eager to use the electricity produced by the project in their soil. "We are hopeful that the project will bring about good changes in the locality.

The health and education sectors are likely to undergo reforms due to the project," said Bhote, pledging utmost cooperation from their side for the project.

Minister Bhusal, in response, said the project would be constructed once they concluded a detailed study of the project that was under way and held discussion on investment modality, that was also in the offing.

She assured that the locals would benefit from the Upper Arun Hydro Power Project and called for their cooperation for the project which she projected to be a 'game-changer'. Nepal Electricity Authority's auxiliary company Arun Hydro Electric Company has been entrusted with the responsibility of constructing the project where the general public will have 49 per cent shares.

For investments, discussions are being held with the World Bank and the European Union for loan at subsidised rate, while Citizen Investment Trust, Employees Provident Fund are also likely investors for the project.

The federal government, provincial government and the local government will also invest in the semi-storage project which is expected to generate over 4.5 billion units of electricity annually.

The World Bank is expected to provide over 13.1 million USD loan at subsidised rate for the project expected to commence in 2023 and completed by 2030. The project, for which 180 hectare land is needed, is estimated to displace a total of 25 households.

The visiting team comprised secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Devendra Karki, Secretary at the Ministry of Finance Madhukumar Marasini, World Bank's vice-chairperson for South Asia region Hartwig Schafer and World Bank's Executive Director Mohammadd Hassan, among others.

The team also inspected the site where the main physical structure and power production house will be built.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 23 2021, of The Himalayan Times.