DEHRADUN: Both India and Nepal can look forward to some progress in the ambitious Pancheswar multipurpose project – a joint project of the two neighbours envisaged two decades ago in 1996.
The project planned to produce 5,000 megawatts of hydro-power remained ‘idle’ for several years.
But in the last two years, the project made some progress. In this continuation, a team of officials headed by central water resources, secretary, Amarjeet Singh will visit the site on the banks of Mahakali river in Uttarakhand on Saturday to review progress of the project.
Mahakali river flows from Nepal and enters into India in the bordering district of Pithoragarh. The river further flows down in Champawat and then enters inside Uttar Pradesh.
“Surveys and inspections are going on by the agencies concerned . A detail project report has also been submitted before the empowered committee of ministers. On Nepal side, some work has already begun,” Champawat district magistrate Ahmad Iqubal told HT, confirming about the visit of the officials.
Pancheswar Development Authority (PDA) and WAPCOS (a union water resources ministry) consultancy firm are handling the study and related works.
Villages on both sides are likely to be submerged in the project. More than 60% area of the affected area falls in Uttarakhand. Apart from rehabilitation, the whopping cost of the project pegged at over Rs 3,000 crore are to be discussed by the two neighbours.
As per main highlights of Mahakali Treaty signed in 1996, the project shall be implemented as an integrated project, including power stations of equal capacity on each side of the Mahakali River and the total energy generated shall be shared equally between the parties.
The project cost shall be borne by the parties in proportion to the benefits accruing to them. A portion of Nepal’s share of energy shall be sold to India. Moreover, the quantum of such energy and its price shall be mutually agreed upon between both the countries.
In 2008, a joint meeting held in Kathmandu decided to constitute Pancheswar Development Authority (PDA) and a notification was issued in 2014. In fact, Uttarakhand is hopeful of benefiting the most from the project. As a case, Uttarakhand would get 12 % of the power generated. Interestingly, Uttarakhand is perhaps the only state which has a separate ministry – Indo-Nepal joint water resources projects. However, the ministers who held the ministry over the years had nothing to do much.
“Pancheswar project gathered momentum after Modi visited Nepal in 2014. Hopefully the next state government shall activate the ministry,” said Prakash Pant, former minister, who held the portfolio during BJP’s tenure in Uttarakhand.