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Nepal fails to meet energy sector targets in the current fiscal

   June 9, 2019        110        PRAHLAD RIJAL

In the opening year of the government declared ‘Energy Development Decade 2018-2028’, the country has only met 9 percent of its generation target.

Against a target of 760 MW set by the Energy Ministry, only 71 MW has been added to the national grid in 11 months of this fiscal, records show.

“We had estimated electricity generation at 760 MW hoping that the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi hydropower project and other private projects would start generating power but the projects were pushed back owing to poor work execution and technical issues,” said Gokarna Raj Panta, deputy spokesperson at the Ministry.

The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project, touted as a role model project and being built with domestic resources, has been pushed back because of recent technical mishaps.

The project is unlikely to meet the target of switching on the first turbine and feeding 76 MW into the national grid even by December-end as construction crews are still struggling to repair the damage caused by a crane failure during the installation of the penstock pipes in May.

As per project officials, the project is overhauling equipment that broke down in the recent crane failure and has been set back by two to three months.

Against the annual target of building 4,299 kilometre of new transmission lines, authorities have only been able to add around 410 kilometres of power lines.

Also, the government has failed to conclude construction of high voltage substations and cross border transmission lines, mainly the Butwal-Gorakhpur and Galchhi-Kerung-Rashuwa-gadhi in line with the set targets for the current fiscal.

The Butwal-Gorakhpur transmission line project, also the major component of a $630 million compact between Nepal and the Millennium Challenge Corporation has failed to get off the ground as Nepal-India are yet to sign an agreement to that front.

And construction of major transmission lines, like the 132 kV Thankot-Chapagaun, 220 kV Bharatpur-Bardaghat, 400 kV Hetauda-Dhalkebar-Duhabi and 400 kV Tamakoshi-Kathmandu, has stalled due to land compensation and forest clearance issues and delays by contractors.

Moreover, the state bodies under the energy ministry have been struggling to meet spending targets.

The Department of Electricity Development, the government body which facilitates consultants to study various power projects and deals with issues affecting private producers, was only able to spend 24.17 percent of its budget in the nine months of the current fiscal year.

According to department statistics, out of the total budget of Rs1.16 billion allocated for eight major tasks and projects, the department was only able to spend Rs280 million.

And, out of the total Rs615.97 million allocated for studying prospects of new hydropower projects, the department was able to spend only Rs55.13 million in nine months.

Department officials say the study works under various projects were stymied by poor performance of consultants which led to non-disbursement of funds.

“The department did not receive quality reports from majority of consultants assigned to study various projects and was unable to release payments,” said Madhu Prasad Bhetwal, director general of the Department.

“We have asked them to revise the works and in the end of current fiscal, the spending figures will

probably jump to around 50 percent.”

Also, obstructions and complications facing the Saptakoshi and Pancheshwar multipurpose projects have resulted in poor spending.

Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the construction of the Saptakoshi High Dam Multipurpose Project has still not been prepared, 14 years after its inception due to obstructions from local residents in the district.

“Despite mobilising resources, we have not been able to solve the issues facing Saptakoshi project as locals are adamantly opposing its development,” said Bhetwal.

The department has injected Rs15.046 million in 10 months of the current fiscal for preparing the report on Saptakoshi without anything concrete to show.

The Kathmandu Post

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