"We are doing our best to not exceed load-shedding from 12 hours" : HARI RAM KOIRALA

At a time when Nepal has been facing a severe power crisis, HARI RAM KOIRALA, who has just completed a year as the Ministry of Energy secretary, spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT on various issues regarding the energy scenario. Excerpts:

Feb. 10, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -16 Feb. 08- 2013 (Magh 26, 2069)

How do you review your yearlong performance as the Ministry of Energy secretary?

During my one-year tenure as the secretary, I have taken a number of decisions, all directed to minimize the load-shedding hours. Along with this, I also cleared a number of files, which had been pending for years in the ministry. The decision making process picked up speed in my time.

Nepal has been facing long hours of load-shedding. What are your plans to tackle this?

As per the Load-shedding Reduction Work Plan 2012, the decision was made to provide additional support to the projects under construction and those pending projects having signed the PPA. Formulation of the Load-shedding Reduction Plan is one of the major achievements of the year. It was approved by the cabinet.  The plan provides clear-cut mandate and vision for long term and short term measures to reduce power cut.

Despite your claim, load shedding hours are long. How do you look at this?

Yes, for a few days, it went up to 14 hours, due to the 30 MW power cut from India. With the initiative of the prime minister, we were able to bring back the time to 12 hours, when the Indian power supply resumed. We are doing our best to not exceed load-shedding from 12 hours. This is the strict direction of the prime minister also.

The recent incidents have shown that Nepal is much vulnerable to power crisis. What is the guarantee that power import may continue as per the Ministry's plan?

India has assured us that they will explore other areas to supply the power in border areas. Nepal is now importing up to 180 MW from India through the existing transmission lines.  We are also working to complete proposed Mujafarpur Dhalkebar Transmission lines and others, so that our power exchange can go smoothly.

What about the construction of other storage projects back home?

To build the power plant within the country is our main priority. We are now focusing on more storage projects. The government has already appointed office bearers at Budhi Gandaki Electricity Development Board, and Nalsingh Gad Electricity Development Board. These two major storage projects are necessary to shorten load shedding. We are also working to identify other projects.  Tanahu Hydroelectric Project (140 MW), storage Type, is now on the final stage of loan negotiations with Asian Development Bank and JICA.

You say that you have taken a number of decisions. What prospects do you see for their implementation?

The implementation part is also impressive. What I can say now is things are moving in the positive direction. Whether it is the constitution of committees or appointment of board members, negotiations with bilateral or multilateral donors, we are moving ahead well.  I cannot claim everything will be green in a short period of time. What I can say is that the results will come out within the next few years.

There are reports that the Ministry has cancelled a number of licenses without judging the capability of license holders. How do you look at this?

Look. I don't have any personal interest.  I have cancelled 23 licenses in one year on the basis of performance. If license holders cannot develop power projects and just hold it for years, there is no reason to renew them.

But, you re-issued some of the licenses, after conciliation, of Upper Trishuil 1. What compelled you to do so?

After assurance from the company that it will construct the project in schedule,               the government reissued the license. If it fails to abide by its commitment, the Ministry will cancel it again.

 

How do you judge your decisions now?

I want to make it clear that whatever decisions I have taken in the last one year was in the interest of the country. I am confident that the people will judge them in the future when they see the results. This is possible only through a team spirit and trust upon each other.

You have said that there are a number of projects in the pipeline. At a time when the lack of transmission lines is creating the problem, what have you done in your tenure to ease the pressure on transmission line?

Transmission lines have already been saturated and there is the need to expand the grid. Nepal government has already taken the decision to set up the National Grid Company and administrative work is going on. Nepal Electricity Authority is also working on this. To accelerate the pace of Khimti-Dhalekebar 220 KV Transmission Line, the Armed Police Post has already been established. The Ministry has made correspondence with the Ministry of Finance to make arrangements for the 39 million dollar with KFW for the capacity augmentation of grid substation, Chilime-Trisuli 3B 220 KV Transmission Line and Chilime 220 KV substation. The initiative continues to get the Exim Bank's Government of India supported Line of Credit for Kosi corridor, Solu corridor and Modi Lekhnath Transmission line.

What about other projects?

Correspondence has already been made with the Ministry of Finance for the arrangement of 25 million US dollars on the construction of 12.25 MW Madi Khola Project. Similarly, the arrangement for 10 million dollar financial support from Economic Development Fund Korea for the study of 300 MW Dudhkosi Storage project. Budhi Gandki Hydropower Development Committee has already been set up to study and develop 600 MW Budhi Gandaki Storage Project under fast track. The committee has already appointed Tracetebel Engineering Project S.A, France, as consultant for Detailed Project Report.

 

What about Nepal India cross border transmission line?

The ministry has already proposed for improvement of cross border transmission lines. A letter has already been sent to the Ministry of Finance to arrange necessary funds for the construction of 400 K.V. second Nepal-India Inter-country Transmission Line. The line will link Mulpani, Naubishe and New Hetauda with Gorakhpur of Indian State of Utter Pradesh.

How do you see the construction of Upper Tamakoshi project and Chameliya?

The row in board of directors of the Upper Tamakoshi hydro project was settled. With coordination from the Ministry of Commerce, the arrangements have been made to ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to Chameliya and Upper Tamakoshi projects. Although the Chameliya project has already missed the deadline and cost has escalated, it is now moving with its work on construction of transmission line and tunnel going on. So far as Upper Tamakoshi is concerned, it is moving satisfactorily. Similarly, a post of armed police is established in Tamakoshi. In the last year, 9 MW power was added in the national grid and another 100,000 population has access to electricity.

As you have been saying that there is the need to promote private sector as well, what proposal have you made to encourage it?

For new domestic promoters, the soft loan of Rs. 20 million per MW has already been provided with new pricing in Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA). Similarly, several steps were taken to promote foreign investors.

Have you moved any new project forward?

The loan negotiation for 8.5 MW Kali Gandaki project has completed and the file forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for 1.4 billion rupees.  A proposal has already been sent to the Ministry of Finance to make the necessary financial arrangements for construction and development of 12.25 MW Madi River Hydro Power Project. Department of Electricity Development is going to implement 20 MW Budhi Gandaki Hydro Power Project and negotiations are underway with Kuwait and Saudi Fund with coordination from Ministry of Finance. 

How do you see EIA?

Regarding, Environment Impact Assessment and IEE, the Ministry approved the Terms of Reference of 12 projects with the capacity of 78 MW for IEE. Similarly, the IEE of 27 projects with 337.2 MW has already approved. Likewise, the EIA of 12 projects with capacity of 8037 MW has been already sent to the Ministry of Science and Technology and Environment for approval.

Besides hydro power, the ministry is also taking initiatives to harness solar power? What is the state?

A task force has already been set up to fix the tariff for solar and storage projects. For instance, the government has already signed an MOU with a company to install solar PV to supply 5 MW of power in central secretariat Singh Durbar. If things go as planned, the project will be completed by coming August. Similarly, a survey license is issued to survey the construction of 50 MW Solar Power (Photovoltaic) in Manugdanda of Tanhu district. Likewise, a survey license is issued for the construction of 3.5 MW biomass power plants in Okharpauwa Land Fill Site.

What is the state of West Seti Project?

MOU has been signed with China's Three Georges International for the development of 750 MW West Seti Storage Project. A delegation led by me visited China to forward West Seti Hydropower Project.  Nepal government has also approved memo of the meeting. Chinese Company will work for DPR.

How about the augmentation of Trishuli A project?

As the cabinet has already approved the augmentation of Trishuli 3 A from 60 to 90 MW, I don't want to talk about it now. What I can say is that I supported the augmentation on the basis of technical and financial reports presented by experts. As a technician, I can say that it is technically viable.

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