June 9, 2017 12:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 9: Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has criticized the government decision to award the Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project to China Gezhouba Water and Power Group Company Ltd (CGGC).
Organizing a press meet in the capital on Thursday, the former prime minister argued that the agreement with the Chinese company was against national interest and demanded its scrapping. Budhi Gandaki is to be developed as a reservoir-based 1200 MW project.
The cabinet on May 23 had decided on May 23 to award the national pride project to the Chinese government-owned company. Following the cabinet decision, the then Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma signed the MoU with Lv Zexiang, president of CGGC Beijing, on Sunday to develop the project on engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF) model.
According to this model, the developer itself will arrange the funds to build the project, which is to be developed at the Budhigandaki River in Dhading and Gorkha districts.
“The decision to develop the project on EPCF through a certain company, which is a foreign company, is like giving the company a blank check, and this is against the spirit of national pride project,” said former prime minister Bhattarai, who is the coordinator of the Naya Shakti Party. He also criticized the govenrment decision to award the project to the Chinese company without competitive bidding. “It [decision] has breached the Financial Act, Good Governance Act and Public Procurement Act,” he said, arguing that the decision was illegal.
The project is estimated cost Rs 250 billion including the cost of land acquisition. Land acquisition is currently under way after the completion of the detailed project report.
“The decision to award the project to Gezhouba through an illegal process just a day before the government's resignation and the energy minister's signing the MoU on the project at the prime minister's residence shows that there is something fishy about the whole deal,” added Bhattarai.
Bhattarai and his party have also questioned the competence and credibility of the Chinese company. Stating that the CGGC could not complete the 60 MW Upper Trishuli 3A, was blacklisted by the developer of Sanjen (Upper) Hydropower Project, and has not been able to complete the 30 MW Chameliya Hydropower Project even 10 years after starting construction, Bhattarai claimed that Budhi Gandaki will see inordinate delays if developed by CGGC.
Naya Shakti Party in a statement has asked the govenrment to solicit international bids to select supervision contractor and construction consultant for the project.