The Project Development Agreement (PDA):
In 2008, GMR group, an infrastructural company of India was awarded the “Upper Karnali Hydropower Project” through an international competitive bidding process on BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer) basis.
Then on September 19, 2014 Nepal government and GMR group signed the PDA for the same worth Rs.140 billion. After the completion, it will be the largest hydroelectricity power station in Nepal. The water from the upper Karnali River will be used for this project through “Run-of-the-river”. In this method, the power plant will have limited amount of water storage or not at all. As per the agreement, the Hydropower project will be generating 900MW of electricity. However, Nepal will be receiving only 12% and rest of them will go to India.
It is also agreed that if the project is not completed by the fiscal year 2022-23, the incentives like Rs.5 million per MW VAT exemption and Rs.4.5 billion in tax rebate will be invalid.
Dissatisfaction Upper Karnali Hydropower Project:
The project agreement signed almost two years back has created severe dissatisfaction over Nepalese people. Everyone is well aware about the one-sided advantages that India will earn from the same. It is being one of the debatable issues all over the Nepali media again with #SaveKarnali slogan. As per the research done over the matter, I found that a petition is being signed to pressurize government of Nepal. The petition is to cancel the agreement and do the project by itself so that every penny of the output will be delivered to us.
Well, the dissatisfaction over providing the project to GMR group is quite obvious here. There are things which make clear that the agreement is straight against Nepal’s welfare.
What are they?
- Out of 4180 MW, which is the total capacity of the respective project, GMR group is only generating 900 MW. Sounds quite absurd, doesn’t it?
- And again, out of the total generated electricity, only 12% will be handed to Nepal; 108 MW in monsoon season and 36 MW in winter season. Now, it sounds absolutely ridiculous.
- As per the World Bank’s prior research about the case, the project would need very less amount of money to be done. It has been said that it could be completed for worth Rs.90 million. But, as the agreement has been signed for Rs.140 billion, it is way too lucid where the extra Rs.50 million is going.
- The water from Karnali would also be mixed with Ganga River in India for the irrigation purpose as well while at the other end; Nepal will have the land of Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Dang districts dry and barren.
- If the project face any loss or any natural disaster then Nepal may have to pay fine of up to 150% to GMR. If it really happens, then we all know how awful will be the condition of Nepal.
Other than these terms, there are more lawful points which clarifies that the agreement cannot be good for Nepal in any way. Everyone might be well aware that as Nepal is rich in water resources, ‘The Hydropower’ is one of the prime projects that would help to build Nepal. So, should Nepal government make the decision of handling the project by itself, it would surely take Nepal one-step ahead. It would open another way of opportunity for the unemployed engineers. And the load-shedding problem that we are facing in today’s time would be resolved completely for sure.
While our Prime Minister, KP Oli is busy with his day dreams like to end the era of cylinder LPG, to sail Nepal’s own ship in Pacific Ocean, to end the dependency over India/China for petroleum products; it would be so nice of him if he would go for hydro projects and try to diminish at least this load-shedding problem.
No one knows whether the lack of enough financial and technical supports is the actual reason behind the project being given to GMR group. Or any other internal political conspiracy is playing its role behind the scenes. But, we all hope that the Nepal government would listen to the thousand appeals for cancelling the agreement and doing the project by itself.