Nepalese MP for reviewing Pancheshwar Dam project
A newly elected Nepalese MP from CPN (UML), a part of Left alliance that is poised for election landslide in Nepal, on Monday backed the bi-national 5,040 megawatts Pancheshwar Dam project on Mahakali river with rider.
The project was accelerated during the rule of Nepali Congress but there was apprehension over the fate of the project if the Left parties – Maoists and CPN (UML) – formed government in the neighbouring nation.
Damodar Bhandari, CPN (UML) leader who won Baitari seat in the federal parliamentary poll, said the project was fine but some conditions need to be reviewed.
Reports from Nepal suggest that the Left alliance has won majority seats in the elections held in the two phases – November 28 and December 7.
“The provisions made for rehabilitation of the affected people in the detailed project report (DPR) will have to be reviewed,” Bhandari told HT over phone from Nepal on Monday.
He, however, rubbished fears that Left parties in Nepal were lenient towards China and could derail the project.
“It was our Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who had sanctioned budget for the project in 2016,” said Bhandari, a former minister of state for finance.
Left parties earlier opposed terms of reference of the Pancheswar project on the question of origin of river Mahakali mentioned in the DPR released by India in 2003 by saying that the origin of river Mahakali from Kalapani glacier in not acceptable to them.
Mahendra Gurung, chief executive officer of Pancheswar Development Authority (PDA), said parties in Nepal have become mature.
“All questions raised by Nepalese intellectuals have been answered in joint DPR of the project. Now, there should be no opposition of the project,” Gurung said.
Two agencies – Pancheswar Development Authority (PDA) and WAPCOS (a union water resources ministry) consultancy firm handling the initial works of the project.
As per DPR of the project, the main Panchesawr dam will produce 4,800 MW while Rupali Gad Re-regulating Dam which is about 25 km downstream from Pancheshwar High Dam will produce 240 MW.
At 315 meters, Pancheswar Dam will be the biggest in India. It will also be the first joint hydro power project that will serve the purpose of both the nations.
Besides producing hydro power, the project will provide irrigation power to both the countries.
But this will come at a price. Thousands of people on both the sides will be displaced.
As per officials, 2.7 lakh hectares land on the Indian side and 1.70 lakh hectares land on the Nepalese side will be submerged in the Mahakali waters.
Total 35 villages, including 24 in Indian border districts -- Pithoragarh and Champawat in Uttarakhand -- will be directly affected. On Uttarakhand’s part, it will get 12% of electricity as its share.
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