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Preparations to hand over two BRI projects to India; China starts work

Chandra Lal Giri

Chandra Lal Giri

 |  Kathmandu

China has advanced the construction of DPR to connect the Tibet railway from Kerung to Kathmandu

Two hydropower projects are scheduled to be transferred to Indian enterprises out of the nine projects that make up China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. 

An agreement is going to be reached that will bring Indian investment to the Phukot Karnali and Tamor hydropower projects during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's trip to India in the third week of April. 

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal four years ago, the then-CPN government drafted an agreement that included these projects as part of BRI.

Three years after the pandemic of Covid-19, China has started work on projects under the BRI. China has started work in Nepal on the expansion of the Kerung-Kathmandu international railway, the Tokha-Chhare tunnel under the Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu road and the Ratmate-Kerung international transmission line, which are among the nine projects allocated under the BRI.

BRI Project to India 
Prime Minister Dahal is preparing to visit India by third week of April after the expansion of the Cabinet. Under some of the main agenda of Dahal's visit, there is a preparation to sign a contract for the construction of Phukot Karnali and Tamor projects.

Both these hydropower projects were included in the BRI project by the then KP Oli-led government in the Nepal-China bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi.

The government-owned Power Generation Company Limited has already decided to award the 480 MW Phukot Karnali hydropower project to the Indian company NHPC Limited on March 27.

Meanwhile, during the visit, preparations are being made to hand over the 756 MW Tamor reservoir hydropower project to the Indian company Sutlej Jalvidyut Nigam (SJVN Limited).

The government has started preparing to sign an agreement with India by passing these projects through the Council of Ministers soon. It has also been decided to give the majority share of Phukot Karnali project to an Indian company. The project seems ready to be given to India without any competition. According to the Ministry of Energy, the preparations for the contract for the construction of Tamor and Phukot Karnali projects have already been completed.

Regarding the Phukot Karnali project, the board of directors of the company, chaired by Energy Secretary Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, has approved the draft memorandum of understanding by giving 51 percent shares to NHPC India Limited, owned by the Government of India, and forming a joint company.

During the Nepal-India energy secretary level meeting held in Rajasthan, India last February, the Nepali side assured the Indian side that an MoU would be signed between NHPC and the power generation company within two months to bring Indian investment in Phukot Karnali.

Not only that, the government led by Prime Minister Dahal has agreed with China's Three-Gorges International (CTGI) in 2012 to develop the project and is also preparing to hand over the much-awaited West Seti project with a reservoir of 750 MW capacity to an Indian company. NHPC India has applied to the Board of Investment for a permit expressing its desire to invest in Paschim Seti.

The Board of Investment's meeting held last May decided to proceed with the process of handing over the construction of Paschim Seti and 450 MW Seti River-6 project to India's government company NHPC Limited.

China starts work on BRI
An expert team of Chinese engineers has started a detailed study and research to prepare the DPR of the Kerung-Kathmandu inland railway since last December. The team returned home to celebrate the Chinese New Year after completing the initial phase of work from December to February. Railway department spokesperson Aman Chitrakar said that the Chinese team of 37 people returned to Nepal in March and continued the work of DPR.

The work that was stopped due to the impact of Covid-19 is now taking place in full swing. Now the feasibility of the railway is being studied", said the painter.

The cost of the DPR of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway is being borne by the Chinese government.

Similarly, the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) of the Tokha-Chhare tunnel included in the BRI project has started. DPR work has also started for Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung 400 KV inter-country transmission line in Nuwakot. Among the Chinese tendered projects that are not included in the BRI project, Narayanghat-Butwal road expansion and Kathmandu ring road expansion have also started.

No further progress has been made in the projects like Madan Bhandari Science and Technology Institute, Kimathanka-Hile road, Dipayal (West) to China road and Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu road upgrading which the then Oli government put in the BRI project.


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