Nepal, India officials meeting in 10 days to get Pancheshwar detailed project report readyThe Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project is a bi-national 6,480 MW hydropower project to be developed on the Mahakali river.
Nepal and India have agreed to hold a meeting of experts to finalise the detailed project report (DPR) of the 6,480 megawatt Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, a bi-national power plant to be developed on the bordering Mahakali river.
The understanding was reached during a meeting of the governing council of the Pancheshwar Development Authority held in Pokhara on Thursday and Friday.
This is the first move towards concluding the DPR after the prime ministers of both countries last month agreed to conclude the DPR within three months during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s India visit from May 31 to June 3.
“The meeting decided to extend the term of the team of experts which expired in March,” said Madhu Bhetuwal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation. “The two sides also agreed to hold the next meeting of the team of experts within 10 days to iron out the differences over the DPR and make a move towards concluding the DPR.”
India’s state-owned Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) Ltd had submitted the DPR draft in 2016 after merging separate project reports prepared by both countries.
However, the two countries still have many issues to resolve, including in areas of sharing of water and benefit assessment to both sides, the officials said. The two sides, however, brought down the number of differences since the WAPCOS submitted the draft of the DPR.
“There were more than 500 unresolved issues which have now come down to 127,” said Bhetuwal, who is also a joint-secretary at the energy ministry of Nepal.
Four years after the third meeting of the team of experts held in Kathmandu in February 2019, the two sides have now agreed to hold a fourth meeting.
During Dahal’s visit to India, it was agreed that officials of both governments would expedite bilateral discussions towards early finalisation of the Pancheshwar DPR within three months.
“The Pancheshwar Development Authority shall submit the finalised DPR to both governments and the two governments and their relevant entities shall take the lead in arranging finance for the project,” the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi stated after the bilateral meeting. “The modalities of implementation shall be concluded within one year after approval of the DPR by the two governments.”
Bhetuwal said the meeting of experts will also be held in the spirit of understanding reached at the highest level.
During the two meetings, the two sides also decided to send permanent members to the executive committee of the Pancheshwar Development Authority from the existing tradition of only sending officials in additional duties.
“Permanent representation in the executive committee will help expedite the preparatory works to develop the Project,” said Bhetuwal. Currently, the chief executive is from Nepal while the additional chief executive is from the Indian side, in the authority.
There are currently eight executive committee members—four from each country— in the Pancheshwar Development Authority.
The Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project was conceived under the Mahakali Treaty between Nepal and India in 1996.
Apart from generating electricity, the project will provide irrigation to 130,000 hectares of land in Nepal and 240,000 hectares in India in addition to other incidental benefits including flood protection.