India, Nepal to resume talks on Pancheshwar hydro project this month
India will restart negotiations this month with the new regime in Nepal on setting up the 6480 MW Pancheshwar multi-purpose hydro-electric project.
The governing body meeting of the Pancheswar development authority which has members of both India and Nepal, is likely to be held on April 25, followed by meeting of experts next month, said an official in the Union water resources ministry who did not want to be named.
The Indian delegation for the Pancheswar development authority meeting will be headed by UP Singh, secretary water Resources, while the group of experts meeting will be headed by chairman of the central water commission, Maqsood Hussain. The governing body meeting is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu while the date and venue for the experts group meeting is yet to be decided.
“All the contentious issues like benefit water sharing will be discussed in the two meetings,” the official said.
Pancheswar, a multi-purpose project conceived under 1996 Mahakali treaty between India and Nepal, got a fillip when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nepal in 2014. A Pancheshwar development authority was set up consequently formed to finalise the project.
The water resources ministry official said five meetings of the governing body of Pancheshwar development authority have been held so far, the last of which was about eight months ago.
The detailed project report of Pancheshwar multi-purpose project was submitted in November 2016 to the Pancheswar development authority and the governments of the two countries.
Officials say New Delhi was waiting for the new regime to settle in Nepal before restarting the negotiations.
Some clauses of the treaty, like water allocation and power purchase still do not seem to be completely resolved.
The project is expected to submerge 11,600 hectares of mountain area out of which 7,600 hectares are in three districts of Uttarakhand while the rest is in Nepal. The public hearings for the project in Uttarakhand were held In August 2017, but the contentious issues in the detailed project report (DPR) with Nepal remained unresolved in the meeting held during the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s visit to India last August.
The water resources ministry official mentioned above said some headway was made during the visit of Deuba’s successor KP Oli earlier this month.
The project is to come up near the Pancheshwar temple, 2.5 km downstream of the confluence of the Mahakali and Sarju rivers.
The project will have two dams for India and Nepal working in tandem.