Cabinet hands reins of hydel project to NEAThe Cabinet awarded the Upper Arun Hydropower Project to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility, during a meeting last Friday.
The Cabinet awarded the Upper Arun Hydropower Project to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility, during a meeting last Friday.
The meeting overturned the decision made by the government six years ago to keep the project in the government basket.
Half a decade ago, the government had decided to keep the project under the government basket while giving the NEA authority to execute the project.
The latest decision means that the project will be fully owned and executed by the subsidiary of the power utility. The NEA has already established Upper Arun Hydro Electric Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary, to implement the scheme.
Currently, the NEA is preparing the detailed project report (DPR) of the hydropower project to be built in Sankhuwasaba district.
The power utility in January appointed CSPDR and Sino Tech to prepare the DPR and bid documents of the power plant.
The consultant is required to prepare the design and submit it to the NEA within two years.
The company will examine aspects of the project like hydrological statistics and test the soil and rock at places where the dam, powerhouse and tunnel will be constructed.
As part of the investigation, it has to bore a 900-metre audit tunnel in the area where the powerhouse will be built.
As per the agreement with the power utility, the consultant also has to optimise the installed capacity of the hydropower project.
A feasibility study done by the NEA in 1991 with the help of the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme fixed the installed capacity of the project at 335 MW.
The study had envisaged that the project would continue to generate at least 75 percent of its installed capacity even during the dry season.
The NEA has asked the consultant to optimise the design in such a way that the plant would generate a minimum of 40 percent of its installed capacity even during the dry season.
According to NEA Spokesperson Prabal Adhikari, the recently completed optimisation study by the consultant shows that the scheme can be built at installed capacity of 850MW. However, the actual installed capacity of the project will be determined only after the consultant finalises the detailed design of the project.
After the project comes online, it is expected to play a crucial role in fulfilling the power demand of load centres in the Eastern Region and minimise transmission loss. The Energy Ministry also wants to export the electricity generated by the Upper Arun to Bangladesh via Indian power line. It is planning to ask the NEA to initiate a process to sign a memorandum of understanding with India’s NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) to export electricity generated by the project to Bangladesh.
If the plan materialises, the NEA will export electricity generated by the two plants into the Indian grid and NVVN will transmit it to Bangladesh.
Projects get national pride status
The Cabinet also decided to include all the projects being developed by Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Nepal in the list of national pride projects during the meeting. MCA Nepal had requested its Electricity Transmission Project be awarded national pride status.
The MCA Nepal, an entity formed to oversee the implementation of US government-funded projects worth $630 million, is executing two broad projects in Nepal—the Electricity Transmission Project and the Road Maintenance Project.
The Electricity Transmission Project being executed by MCA Nepal includes the construction of approximately 300 km of double-circuit 400 kV transmission lines in central Nepal.