Kathmandu, 12 May: Civil Society Alliance for Rational Water Resources Development in Nepal has expressed utter dissatisfaction on the act of Nepali and Indian governments while endorsing agreement on water resources development in Nepal.
In a press statement issued on the eve of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit, members of the Alliance have made the following remarks:
[In readerships’ interests, we have published full text of the statement]
We, a group of Nepali professionals, academics, politicians and civic activists who have been deeply concerned with the wrong path of hydropower and water resources development in Nepal over the last decades, have been alerting the public through the media as well as the prime ministers of both Nepal and India. We submitted Open Letters to the two prime ministers on 22nd November 2014, 27th August 2016, 5th August 2017 and also on 2nd April 2018 just prior to Mr K.P. Sharma Oli’s visit to India with copies to the Water Resources/Energy Ministry, the Investment Board and the Indian Ambassador. Our concerns have not be responded to and remain unaddressed. They deal with the manner in which projects that are multipurpose are conceptualized as single purpose hydropower, how they are deemed for export bypassing the parliament and the constitution, and how they harm the long-term interests of Nepal and at times even that of India. They are summarized as follows:
The Project Development Agreements (PDA) of Upper Karnali and Arun-3 were kept secret (from the public as well as Parliament and the Supreme Court) by the authorities in the Investment Board on the pretext that it was a “commercial agreement” but they now been forced open into the public domain by activists through the National Information Commission. Its reading confirms our worst fears that the PDA does not serve the interests of either the government or of the peoples of both Nepal and India, but only that of an (unduly) profit making body.
The PDA preempts harnessing of full potential of the site (4,180 MW) as multipurpose project while the 900 MW RoR proposed is in violation of the tender provision for the stipulated 300 MW called for. Its cost has been spuriously raised to recover profits ultimately from the taxpayers and the unsuspecting co-investors. Even the electricity that Nepal is to get free has been slated for export thus precluding upstream downstream benefits to the Nepali economy.
The story repeats itself in the PDA of Arun-3 which was similarly illegitimately handed over to an India government-owned company. In a brazen display of lampasaarbad, there is talk of Modi-Oli jointly laying the foundation of Arun-3 by remote control. This act, following the granting of generating license to Satluj by the Investment Board, would damage Nepal-India relations in the long-term because IB does not have the right to give license for hydropower development, only the Ministry Water Resources and Energy has that right. Moreover, a generating license can only be given after a Power Purchase Agreement has been signed and Financial Closure has been achieved; and neither of these has been accomplised, making the exercise illegal besides illegitimate.
Major water resource development initiatives between Nepal and India such as Pancheshwar under the Mahakali Treaty or Karnali (Chisapani), Kosi High Dam are in limbo because there has been no honest attempt to evaluate their real costs and full benefits, let alone allocating them fairly. However, we would have thought India’s recent inland navigation initiative – which would not be possible on the Ganga without storage dams in Nepal – would have brought about a more honest assessment of the path ahead. A hasty inauguration of Arun-3 construction holds the potential for damaging the reputations of both PMs Oli and Modi, and Nepal-India relations much into the future. We urge serious reconsideration of past bad decisions.
- Energy Minister of Nepal
- Investment Board of Nepal
- HE the Ambassador of India to Nepal
Civil Society Alliance for Rational Water Resources Development in Nepal
- Mr Chitra Bdr KC, Chair, Rashtriya Jana Morcha
- Mr. Bihari Krishna Shrestha, anthropologist/former Additional Secretary
- Mr. Dipak Gyawali, Academician, NAST, former Minister of Water Resources
- Mr. Ratna Sansar Shrestha, former member, NEA board of directors
- Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, former Minister of Finance/Foreign Affairs
- Dr. Ananda B Thapa, former Executive Secretary, WECS
- Dr. Dwarika Nath Dhungel, former Secretary Ministry of Water Resources
- Prof. Dr. Mohan P Lohani, former Ambassador
- Mr. Bharat Basnet, The Explore Nepal
- Mr Ajit Narayan Singh Thapa, former MD, NEA