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750 MW West Seti hydel to be constructed by Indian company

Kathmandu, Nepal: National Hydro Power Company Limited India to get the contract of  the construction of 750-megawatt West Seti Hydropower Project and 308-megawatt SR6 Storage Hydroelectric Project by Nepal government.

The 51st meeting of the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) chaired by Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has decided to award the company with the contract as per the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Member of the IBN and former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Bhawani Rana said, “The decision was taken to hand over the West Seti and SR6 projects to Indian company NHPC for construction. The project, which has been stalled for a long time, is moving forward. Modalities will be decided after discussions with IBN. Building a power project will also help reduce the trade deficit.”

Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, while addressing an election rally in his home district Dadeldhura on May 10, had said that Nepal would not be able to build the West Seti project on its own and announced to contract an Indian company for that.

“India does not buy electricity produced by China. They don’t even buy electricity generated from the projects built by Chinese companies. That is why an Indian company had to be brought in,” PM Deuba had said while addressing the election rally.

The project has been in limbo for 29 years as it has not been able to formulate the modalities and investment structure. There is an obligation to meet the domestic demand by importing electricity from India when there is an energy crisis in winter. The Australian company Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) did nothing but hold the West Seti hydropower project’s license for 17 years.

The Nepal government then awarded the project to the Chinese company, China Three Gorges International Corporation (CTGI), but the Chinese company, too, did not build it. The government has not been able to move the project forward even though it was taken away from Three Gorges Company three years ago.

Even though the government had showcased the project at the Nepal Investment Summit in March 2019, the foreign investment sources and structure could not be finalized for the construction of the project.

Listed as a project of national pride, this project has been neglected for three decades. Earlier, the West Seti Hydropower Project was estimated to cost Rs 165 billion.

Harjap Singh

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