Our Supreme Court is presently hearing the writ petition of Ratan Bhandari on the recent two year financial closure extension given to GMR Energy by the Investment Board of Nepal (IBN) for the construction of the 300/900 MW Upper Karnali Hydroelectric Project. As this Upper Karnali Project story started 17 years ago in 2006 and still ongoing in 2023, the following main historical points are being highlighted for those interested in it:
It is in this context of two year Financial Closure extension to GMR Energy that Ratan Bhandari’s writ at Supreme Court is being heard. We, the Nepalese, question why Upper Karnali with a mere 2.4 Km headrace tunnel has not been able to complete its Financial Closure for 17 long years while the Arun III with 11.7 km tunnel is about to be commissioned in 2023-24:
i) The Kathmandu Post, February 28, 2022, headlined India’s SJVN signs paper to get Rs 101 Billion loan for Arun-3 Hydro Project and reported the following:
SJVN Chairman and Managing Director Nand Lal Sharma reaffirmed SJVN's commitment to complete the construction of 900MW Arun-3 hydropower project in Nepal by the fiscal year 2023-24, one year ahead of the scheduled commissioning of the project in February 2025, as required under Project Development Agreement and Financing Documents.
ii) 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi was licensed to NEA in 2007, about a year earlier to GMR Energy. Financed entirely through Nepal’s own resources, with a lengthy 8.4 Km headrace tunnel and another lengthy 68 Km access road (Charikot–Lamabagar), Upper Tamakoshi started commercial operation on 22nd August 2021, despite the disruption by the massive 7.8 Richter scale earthquake of 2015 and the 5 months India-imposed embargo.
With the argument that GMR Energy would sell 500 MW power to Bangladesh, a two year license extension has been given. Upper Karnali is in West Nepal and to transfer this 500 MW through India’s Northern then Eastern Grids into Bangladesh is quite a troublesome ‘wheeling task’. GMR Energy can easily sell this 500 MW power in its own hungry Northern Grid. But to get the ears of Nepalese decision makers, Bangladesh has been brought up as the ‘dekhaune dant’. This is all because GMR Energy has done nothing in the past 17 years while the two above mentioned Projects (that were licensed about the same time), Upper Tamakoshi is already commissioned and Arun III in the process of commissioning within a year. It is the responsibility of the Investment Board to tell the Nepalese people why GMR Energy has been given another 2 year extension for Financial Closure
Baisakh 4, 2080 (April 17, 2023)
VOL. 16, No. 19, May.26, 2023 (Jestha,12. 2080) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75
VOL. 16, No. 18, May.05, 2023 (Baisakh 22. 2080) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75
VOL. 16, No. 17, April.21, 2023 (Baisakh 08. 2080) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75