KATHMANDU, Jan 5: Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma endorsed directives at midday Wednesday, opening license applications for over 150 hydropower projects in 'government reserves'. But the information had already been leaked to some hydropower developers, it has come to light.
The Licensing of Hydropower Projects 2073 directives were made public only later in the day after office hours.
About 15 hydropower producers applied for project licenses at our department on Wednesday itself, informed Babu Raj Adhikari, information officer of the Department of Electricity Development (DoED). The directives was not uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Energy and Department of Electricity Development until 5 p.m. The applications are for projects varying from 5 MW to 50 MW, according to Adhikari.
According to the law, hydropower licenses are issued on first come first serve basis but leaked information has benefitted some developers, enabling them to choose the lucrative and easy to develop ones out of an estimated 150 projects and acquire the licenses even before the directives are made public.
Over a dozen documents, including a hydrological analysis, equity share arrangements certified by chartered accountants and a voucher for the license fee payment at Nepal Rastra Bank, are required for license application and it may take about five days to prepare them, said a source at Independent Power Producers Association, Nepal.
"It's impossible to deposit the license fee at NRB and get a voucher the same day. The applications within just a few hours after the directives decision were pre-planned," said the source.
The projects were placed in 'reserve' over the last three years after the government had decided not to re-issue licenses that were issued but cancelled due to different reasons.
According to the directives, applicants for these licenses have to pay an additional fee equal to a license fee of a year for projects having an installed capacity of 1 to 25 MW and equal to two years license fee for projects of 26 MW and above.
The private sector has long been demanding the opening of licensing. Nabin Raj Singh, DoED director general, informed that they have taken precautions against information leaks. "A few applications may have been filed at DoED as the developers could have been preparing for this," added Singh.
According to the DoED website, there are 238 projects in the reserve list. However the IPPs can only apply for projects other than the 39 which are under study by DoED itself.