Change of govt puts plans on back burnerThe planned petroleum exploration at Sirsthan-Navisthan in Dailekh initiated by the previous government has been put on the back burner.
The planned petroleum exploration at Sirsthan-Navisthan in Dailekh initiated by the previous government has been put on the back burner.
The change in the government has put a dampener on hopes of the locals who were expecting that the project could bring changes in the district.
Following the acute shortage of petroleum products triggered by Indian trade embargo last year, former prime minister KP Sharma Oli had initiated the process of identifying and exploring the reserve of petroleum products and natural gas in the country.
Then Industry Minister Som Prasad Pandey, who had visited the district along with a team of Chinese experts in May, had expressed his commitment to initiate the extraction of the natural gas after conducting a detailed study.
Pandey visited the possible reserve site twice during his tenure.
The Chinese team which was assigned to conduct the feasibility study on petroleum gas and mineral oil exploration had remained at the site for a week to conduct the preliminary study.
The support from the Chinese team of experts was a part of an understanding between Nepal and China during Oli’s visit to the northern neighbour.
In its report submitted to the Department of Mines and Minerals, the Chinese team has mentioned about the finding of significant amount of petroleum and gas deposits in Dailekh. The team has also carried samples of stone, rock, soil and water of the site for a detailed study.
Pandey urged the current government to prioritise the initiative of the previous government. “It has been quite some time since the expert team from China submitted the report to the government,” said Pandey. The Chinese government is ready to provide technical and financial support for the exploration and extraction,” he said. “So, the ball is in incumbent government’s court. It should decide what it wants.”
Shanti Prasad Sharma, chairman of the Dailekh Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the discontinuation of the development programme after the change of the government
“We don’t have detailed knowledge about the gas that is being wasted. We don’t know if it can be used or not,” he said. “We had high hopes after the earlier government initiated the exploration. However, with the change of government the project is in limbo.”
There is leakage of gas through the cracks on the ground at Navisthan and Sirsthan in Dailekh. The natural gas of the region has been going waste like this for decades. The locals have been using the gas to lit fires and worshipping the flame as fire goddess.
Amar Bahadur Thapa, the lawmaker of the region said he will seek government’s plan for discussion in the House. “Where has the process of exploration gone? I will question,” said Thapa.