India has second thoughts about Butwal powerlineConstruction of the 400 kV Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line is in limbo as India is having second thoughts about the project.
Construction of the 400 kV Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line is in limbo as India is having second thoughts about the project.
Nepal and India had agreed to build the Butwal-Gorakhpur line as a backup for the Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar line to ensure uninterrupted power supply, but the southern neighbour has begun to question its commercial viability.
A detailed project report (DPR) of the proposed transmission line has been prepared, and the two countries are ready to approve it.
“Indian officials have repeatedly pointed out the issue of commercial viability of the cross-border transmission line during our informal meetings with them,” said an Energy Ministry official. “We are doubtful whether India really wants to develop the project.”
A recent energy secretary-level Joint Steering Committee (JSC) meeting between the two countries had agreed to endorse the DPR prepared by a joint technical team soon. The same meeting had also asked the technical team to recommend a funding modality for the construction of the transmission line.
Nepali officials had proposed that Nepal and India would build the portion of the power line that lies within their respective territories. Around 20 km of the 135 km transmission line falls in Nepali territory, and the rest is situated on the Indian side.
Nepal is considering building its section of the transmission line with a grant from Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US aid agency.
“MCC has shown interest in financing the transmission line, and has asked us to get an assurance from India that they will build the portion that lies in its territory,” said the source. “However, we have told them that Nepal will initiate the construction of the project even if India keeps dilly-dallying.” MCC is also positive about building the transmission line, and the ministry hopes to hear from it soon, the source added.
Nepal and India had agreed to build the Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line during a JSC meeting held a year ago in New Delhi, and had formed a joint technical team to prepare the DPR.
The ministry has accorded top priority to the planned transmission line as it can efficiently distribute imported power to high energy consuming cities like Bhairahawa, Butwal, Pokhara and Narayangadh which lie within a short distance.
Moreover, the power line will be useful to evacuate surplus energy produced in the Budhi Gandaki and Marshyangdi corridors once various under-construction hydro projects there come online.