By Prajwal Shrestha
According to a report in Nagarik vernacular daily, due to the Indians, construction of the postal roads in Tarai districts was delayed by 13 years.The East-West postal roads were the traditional roads in use earlier to construction of the Mahendra East-West Highway. The roads pass through middle of the Tarai districts. As per the previous agreement, the Nepal side had to complete construction of the bridges and the Indian side had to construct the roads. The Nepal side, as per the agreement, already constructed bridges, yet roads are to be completed. We depended on India to constructthe roads, which we could have done it ourselves. Indians have vested interests in the Tarai districts, yet, the construction project was delayed. The Indian contractors assigned by India to construct the roads have disappeared and now the Indians have said that they would give the fund to our government and our government will be completing the project. Now, India has decided to provide certain amount of fund to the Nepal government, which is not enough to construct all postal roads. Therefore, the Nepal government has decided to spend the remaining amount by itself and complete the project. Let’s hope, the postal road will be completed soon.
Accordingly, in another report, the upper Arun hydropower project has been delayed due to the World Bank. The World Bank has not responded to the Nepal government’s request for assigning consultant for the project for last ten months. Due to the delay of the World Bank, the project works have been pushed back for about a decade, the report state.
These two are the examples only. Time and again, this scribe is writing that Nepal should not rely on foreign aid in infrastructural project. Sure, we may not be able to construct all big infrastructural projects. However, the government itself can construct some selective big projects on its own.By developing an environment for attracting private sector, we can also manage fund for some big infrastructural projects as well. In this way, on the priority basis, we can complete some important infrastructural projects. The government should develop the policy that key infrastructural projects have to be constructed on our own investment so that the project will be completed on time. Earlier, there was the mentality among us that as hydropower projects are consuming huge investment, we cannot construct hydropower projects. Today, we can see many local private sector investors in this sector. They are gaining experience and increasing their investment. The other mentality was that we don’t have such huge funds to invest, which has also became false as we can see 10 to 20 times more demand of primary level and IPO shares. From the recent experience, we have seen that every year, we can construct 337 MW hydropower project from the investment within the country. And there is the reserve amount worth 88 billion rupees with the non-financial as well as financial government organs, which we can invest in infrastructure projects by developing investment friendly regulations.
When the Energy Minister called for public commitment for investment in hydropower, the government received encouraging amount of commitment from the public.
There are several benefits while constructing hydropower projects by ourselves. First of all, the production cost will be reduced as we don’t need to assign foreign consultant by paying huge amount of salary. We don’t need to sign power purchase agreement in dollar, which will also reduce the production cost. Besides, our manpower can develop skills. Therefore, first priority should be given to construct such projects by us in participation of the Nepali people.