The agreement signed with the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) for the construction of the 750-MW West Seti Hydropower Project was as per the existing law of the land. The decision of the Natural Resources and Means Committee under parliament to halt the works of the West Seti Hydro Power Project immediately was unfortunate in the context of broader hydropower development in Nepal. The members of the parliamentary committee issued the directives due to the lack of clarity on the matter and I will convince them what we have transpired. The instruction is the result of lack of clarity. I will make the committee clear about the legal aspect of the accord in coming meeting. I hope the committee will clear the project after listening to our argument.
When the West Seti power project gets completed, it will help reduce the problem of power outage significantly. Therefore, the works should not stop. As per the agreement, the reservoir-based 750-MW hydropower project would be constructed with the 75 per cent investment of the CTGC and 25 per cent from the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
An estimated Rs. 124 billion will be spent for the project. The CTGC has also agreed to provide concessional loan to NEA if the latter requires. The project is estimated to be completed by 2019. The cancellation of the agreement will push the country towards further darkness as the construction of the hydro power is urgent to get rid of power crisis.
We have not violated any law and it was signed as per the article 35 of Electricity Act 2049 (BS).Construction of West Seti will be the milestone for Nepal. It is the project of national pride.
There is anything wrong or against the national interest in the agreement. At a time when the country has been passing through the sever power crisis and Nepal needs to have a bigger storage project like West Seti to maintain the power supply. Keeping in the mind of Nepal’s needs for power in the future, we have made agreement with CTGC. Nepal’s power demand is growing annually in a high and there is no project like West Seti that can provide the supply of Nepal. Unfortunately, Natural Resources Committee of Legislature Parliament summoned us and ordered to suspend the agreement. We are going to committee demanding to reverse its decision. We have cancelled earlier agreement saying that Nepal needs such project for future. When we have selected a company which has capability to invest over 1.5 billion dollar agree to invest in the project for the purpose of international consumption, there is campaign against it.
It is strange to see all of sudden so many experts come out against the agreement signed with CTGC. However, no one has strong argument that why this project should not be developed. Along with export oriented projects with Indian companies, we have also signed West-Seti for purely internal consumption. All of us know that there need a huge amount of money to invest in the project like West Seti. Nepal is now in sever power crisis and there will be more crisis in future until we develop a power project like West Seti with firm power distribution. Along with investing such a huge amount of money, CTGC also agreed to provide concessional loan to Nepal Electricity Authority in its 25 percent share. I don’t have any hesitation to say that those who are opposing the project are anti-national. Before blaming or supporting the decision of Natural Resources Committee of House of Representative, one needs to go through the project agreement. Nepal needs to have more than 15,00 MW of power in next ten years and there is no other viable project as West Seti. As Nepal lacks a reservoir project, West Seti is best among them. If one supports and argues for Kosi high dam, why do they oppose the project which is complete in the interest of Nepal.
Nepal’s present power crisis is the failure of all of us. I don’t have any hesitation to accept this fact. I would like to request humbly to all water resources experts, politicians and members of Natural Resources Committee to speak their mind reading the agreement on West Seti. Don’t take the decision haphazardly ignoring national interest. I want to claim that we have not done any harm to national interest signing West Seti agreement with CGTC. Those who stand against it has to prove that constructing the reservoir project like West Seti is against the national interest. History will judge who is right and who is wrong. I can claim that this is the best agreement in the interest of the country.
(Bogati is the Minister of Energy. Excerpts of his statement based on recent interaction with media.)