HORRIBLE  DECISION  TO  RUIN  SUNKOSI-TERAI  PROJECT

At&nbsp; present our government&nbsp; is&nbsp; interested&nbsp; to&nbsp; grant&nbsp; a private foreign company to build the Tamar Storage Project.&nbsp; We should&nbsp; bear in mind&nbsp; the dire consequences of&nbsp; such&nbsp; decision.&nbsp;<br><

Sept. 8, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No.-06 Sept. 09-2011 (Bhadra 23,2068)<br>

Sunkosi- Terai  Project  has been identified  based  on  the  detailed  UNDP-FAO supported prefeasibility  study as well as other subsequent studies to be the lifeline project  for the whole country  to combat against  the  widening  gap between the rapidly growing demand and sluggish  increase  in production of the food grains.  It has also been  recognized as  the most important project   for the  overall  development of  the entire Eastern Terai  to  the west of the Kosi.


Shockingly,  it is no other but our own  government  instead of supporting the cause  of the greater use of  our water resources in our own country,  is  itself now going to ruin the potential of  the Sunkosi River to  irrigate the vast area of  the Eastern Terai  by allowing a  private foreign  company to implement the  Dudhkosi Storage Hydropower Project  that  would be discharging  a substantial proportion of the Sunkosi River flow far  further downstream to a point out of  the reach of the UNDP-FAO proposed  Sunkosi-Terai Project  tunnel intake.  The irrigation area would thus be substantially reduced as a result of such extremely  harmful  government decision.


Revision of Treaty 

Nepal had succeeded in  1966 to perform  the herculean  task to secure revision of  the Kosi River Treaty  signed several  years  earlier with  India to open the door to full scale irrigation  development  in  the Eastern Terai.   Now,  according  to  the revised  Treaty  India has fully  recognized  Nepal’s  absolute right to implement the Sunkosi Project allowing to withdraw the entire flow  of  the Sunkosi River needed  to  irrigate  the greater part  of  the  Eastern Terai.  The relevant text of the Kosi Treaty has been presented hereinafter:


“ Use of Water and Power- HMG shall have every right to withdraw for irrigation and for any other purpose in Nepal water from the Kosi River and from the Sun-Kosi River or within the Kosi basin from any other tributaries of the Kosi River  as may  be  required from  time to time.  The Union ( India) shall have the right to regulate all the balance of supplies in  the Kosi River  at the barrage site  thus available from time to time and  generate power in  the Eastern Canal”


Terrible  News

Everybody  even  slightly  knowledgeable  about  our  country’s  water  resources  might have  been stunned by the news published  in  the  daily  newspaper  “Kantipur”  on  Shrawan   26, 2068  that our government is going to decide to invite an American company to implement the Dudhkosi Storage Project.     Implementation  of  the  Dudhkosi  storage project would  not  only  considerably limit the capacity of the proposed Sun-Kosi Project to irrigate the vast area of Nepal's Eastern Terai but  at the same time  would also preclude  the  viability of  the  Kosi High Dam Project considered indispensable for the safety of millions living in Nepal and India.    It should be further explained that  the  viable Kosi Dam Project  and the Lower Arun Project  considered  to be  handed over to a foreign private company for implementation are also  mutually exclusive.   The Dudhkosi  hydropower  as well  as  the  Lower  Arun  hydropower  would  be  completely  submerged  into  the  Kosi  reservoir  if and when  the Kosi  dam project would  be implemented. 


Tamar Storage and Downstream  Benefits

At  present our government  is  interested  to  grant  a private foreign company to build the Tamar Storage Project.  We should  bear in mind  the dire consequences of  such  decision.   The studies of  the  Kosi  and its tributaries  conducted  since  the  time of the British rule in India help to come to the conclusion that our  country  as  a whole in general  and  the local  people  in particular  would  certainly stand  to  gain even  more  from  the large downstream benefits  accruing   as  a result  of   flood  control,  irrigation and power generated by other hydropower  stations built  on the lower reaches of the  river in future  rather than  the benefit  accruing  solely  from the electricity generation   of  the Tamar Storage Project.


Disastrous  Future Plans

It is a good sign that very recently the government  is trying to show that it is hard on those who  are responsible for the financial  losses of the NEA.  However, such simple actions alone would not be sufficient to  pull  through our  water resources sector from the present extremely precarious situation.   Apart from  the bizarre case of  wrong  planning  adversely affecting the Kosi and its tributaries projects,  as described above,  our government’s  decisions to select  the following other three storage projects  also  would be totally wrong and at the same time could  be  even disastrous.


West Seti Project-  At present certain sector of the media and  various local INGOs & NGOs are striking a chord  with the government  to implement the West Seti Project that will  have  a  very cheap type  of 195 meters  high  cfrd  dam going to be the highest in the world among this type of dams built so far.  Our  government is totally ignoring  the fact that in a recent article  published in  the INTERNATIONAL  JOURNAL OF WATER POWER AND DAM CONSTRUCTION   even the  Chairman of  the Seismic  Aspect  Committee of the ICOLD ( International Commission of Large  Dams)  Dr. Martin Wieland  has  clearly explained  that this type of dam would be vulnerable in high seismic region like ours. Risk of building such dam in the seismic region has been pointed out in the World Bank supported Karnali (Chisapani) Project feasibility study  report  also.


Andhi Khola Storage Project  -  It has been clearly explained in  the UNDP supported Gandak basin master plan study that this project was not favoured  for implementation because the flooded  valley is very large in area.   The valley  is intensively cultivated  and  also densely populated. Even in 1970s the population to be displaced was 22,000.


Upper Seti Storage Project -  Two high dams had been considered for the development of  the Upper Seti.  The upstream Upper Seti Project would  have a very  large storage  reservoir.  The  densely populated  Madi  Khola valley would  be submerged.  According to 1970s reporting about 18000 people would be displaced. The  reservoir would flood 10 km stretch of the Pokhara-Kathmandu highway and also the Madi Khola bridge.  The reconstructed highway would be 38 km long.  This project was not favoured because of these environmental problems.


The downstream Upper Seti Project  will only then  be feasible if and when the upstream Upper Seti Storage Project would be implemented.


In Conclusion

It is hoped that the government, parliamentary committees and also the civil society will not turn deaf ears to above described  highly  sensitive high dams related  technical  and  environmental issues. Needles to say  that the wrong decision  on  above described  matters could   be extremely  disastrous for the whole country .
 


 

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