‘Upper Tamakoshi is no Panacea’
The tripartite loan agreement between Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Nepal Telecom (NT) has cleared the uncertainties surrounding Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project (UTHP) and its implementation. Recent sanctioning of loans to UTHP by Rastriya Beema Sansthan and Citizen’s Bank has provided much-needed impetus and urgency to complete ‘behind-the-schedule’ project on time. UTHP is the first and the largest hydropower project being constructed mobilizing the funds from within the country. Situated in Dolakha district, the end-cost of 456 MW hydropower project is estimated at Rs. 35.29 billion. It is billed as the cheapest hydropower project under construction till date and is scheduled to operate by the end of 2015. But within the short span of its inception, the project has already weathered a mini-crisis involving the appointment of CEO of UTHP and the Hon. Minister of Energy Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat at the heart of ensuing drama that unfolded in the Supreme Court. And the recent cabinet discussions on hiking electricity tariff and the debacle on the amount of percentage hike has shifted focus on the shambolic state of government-owned and run Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). Alls not well within Ministry of Energy and NEA with energy politics play at its epicenter.
To start, Government of Nepal (GoN) has invested more than NRs. 19 billion on NEA and NEA’s return is losses amounting to NRs. 20 billion. The burgeoning annual loss alone has reached NRs. 4 billion last fiscal year. Reeling under severe financial crunch, NEA has finally instigated Upper Tamakoshi Hydro Power Project under its aegis, its first project in more than a decade, albeit with hefty loans. The project, on completion, is supposed to save NEA from bankruptcy and safeguard government’s investment in NEA. Already, well-publicized reports are out stating UTHP will address the energy deficiency and power-cuts, provide...
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