The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has committed to investing in the 635 MW Dudhkoshi Reservoir Hydropower Project.
On Wednesday, a team including Managing Director of the Nepal Electricity Authority Kulman Ghising, Director General of ADB Ramesh Subramaniam, and Country Director of ADB Nepal Resident Mission Arnaud Cauchois inspected the project on-site.
The team examined the reservoir area and powerhouse site of the project and held discussions with the local people's representatives at Rabuwa Bazar located in the Khotang district, which is also the dam site.
During the proceedings, Director General Subramaniam announced that this was the final inspection from a higher authority to advance the project and assured that financial management will be executed expeditiously under the leadership of ADB. Stating that the project has gained approval from the community, he emphasized the need to expedite finalizing the technical, environmental, and social aspects that have been under discussion for 38 years.
The estimated cost of the project, which includes interest during the construction period, amounts to 2.2 billion dollars. Of the total project finances, 1.68 billion dollars will be raised through debt and the remainder through equity.
The ADB will lead a coalition of global financial institutions that will provide one billion dollars in subsidized loans, with ADB committing a concessional loan investment worth 550 million dollars towards the project.
Arnaud Cauchois, the Country Director of ADB Nepal Residential Mission, reported that his team is working assiduously to hasten the decision-making process and is engaging in frequent dialogue with the Nepalese government.
The Managing Director of NEA Ghising stated that the Dudhkoshi Reservoir Hydropower Project is a significant undertaking, the largest dam project in the SAARC region to date. He implored the local community to remain patient throughout development.
As Dudhkoshi is a critical piece of Nepal's electric grid, financial management is being overseen by the ADB with the goal of completion by December 2024.
Ghising added that finalization of technical, environmental, and social issues is currently underway.
In the program, the representatives of the local populace requested the immediate removal of confusion surrounding the project as local development activities were halted due to the project's failure to move forward. They pledged to offer essential support and facilitation at the local level to propel the project forward.
In the program, Nishant Sharma, the Chairman of Chisankhugadhi Rural Municipality in Okhaldhunga, expressed his opinion that acceleration of the long study phase for the project is necessary and that the distribution of land compensation and commencement of construction work should immediately follow.
Sharma expressed concern about the area's remote geographic location and economic underdevelopment. As a consequence of this project, several infrastructure development initiatives, such as road and bridge construction, have been halted, and external migration rates are rising. Sharma stated that the local community wholly supports making this project a success.
Similarly, Mayor Vimala Rai of Halesi Tuwachung Municipality in Khotang expressed optimism regarding an end to the long wait for local residents and the start of the project. She also noted the trend of migration in the municipality and Khotang, and suggested that the rate of migration may decrease if the project begins promptly.
He reported that he and the local community are advancing through different stages of the project and are enthusiastic about completing it on schedule.
Fatik Kumar Shrestha, the Chairman of Rawbesi Rural Municipality in Khotang, expressed his hope that the quality of life of those impacted by the initiative would grow. He also expressed confidence that the project would begin shortly.
Shrestha vowed that all individuals in the affected district are prepared to support the project.
Bimal Gurung, the Chief Executive Officer of Dudhkoshi Hydropower Company Limited, provided details on the project's historical context, proposed structure, and current progress status.
He demonstrated his unwavering determination to commence the project and anticipated receiving financial aid from ADB expeditiously. Gurung stated that the project will entail various activities, including the construction and maintenance of access roads, bridges, and related infrastructure.
The construction of the project will have an impact on 3,139 households in the Khotang, Okhaldhunga, and Solukhumbu districts. Among them, 238 households will be fully affected, and 2,901 households will be partially affected. Approximately 30,000 acres of land need to be acquired for the project. The land acquisition process has progressed, and the
project will produce an annual output of 3.44 billion units of electricity. During the dry season, 1.36 billion units of electricity will be generated, while 2.8 billion units will be produced during the rainy season. Construction of the project will take seven years.