Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line: Forest Ministry’s indecision delays project developmentThe construction of the Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line is in limbo due to the Forest Ministry’s dillydallying in providing clearance to cut down trees to make way for the power line. The project is touted as the backbone of the electricity transmission system for the eastern region of Nepal.
The construction of the Kabeli Corridor Transmission Line is in limbo due to the Forest Ministry’s dillydallying in providing clearance to cut down trees to make way for the power line. The project is touted as the backbone of the electricity transmission system for the eastern region of Nepal.
The project being developed by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility, needs approval from the the Department of Forest to cut down 645 trees from the national forest and around 250 privately owned trees to erect towers and pull electric cables.
It has been more than a month since the project office forwarded the application seeking approval but the department has yet to forward the file to the Ministry for a decision.
While the Ministry itself can give approval to cut down privately owned trees, it has to forward the application to the Cabinet to get approval to cut down the trees located in the national forest. The power utility was planning to complete the power line by the end of December but delay in cutting down the trees is likely to push back the completion date of the project which has already completed more than 90 percent of construction works.
“If we get the approval immediately, we will be in position to meet the completion deadline of December 2018. But if the Ministry delays in granting the project approval to cut down trees, it will push back the completion date,” said Dipendra Raj Dwivedi, the NEA-appointed project chief of Kabeli Corridor.
The construction of the 132 kV double-circuit transmission line which is 90.2 km long and consists of 262 towers, is divided into three sections.
The first section stretching from Damak to Godak is complete. The project office needs to erect two towers in the third section stretching from Phidim to Taplejung while it needs to erect four towers in the second section extending from Godak and Phidim. Similarly, the project needs to pull electric cables on the 17-km long stretch.
The construction of the power line project which started a decade back was delayed by political instability, negligence of the contractor, obstruction by landowners, difficult terrain and delayed permission for cutting trees.
The power line project also faced a major hurdle at Siddhithumka, Deumai Municipality after locals refused to give right of way to string electric wires over their land. Locals of Siddhithumka had demanded 100 percent compensation for their land to provide right of way, obstructing the construction of 11 towers in the area. The NEA had offered a compensation rate of 10 percent of the land value for 9 metres of land on either side of the transmission line as per the prevailing law, but locals turned it down.
The dispute was resolved after elected local representatives convinced the residents not to obstruct development activities and offer right of way as per the prevailing law. Locals, NEA officials and local representatives reached a settlement during a meeting in March.
The power line will feed the power generated by hydroelectricity projects on the Kabeli, Hewa and Mai rivers in Panchthar and Taplejung into the national grid. The transmission line extends over various parts of Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Tehrathum and Taplejung districts.