Construction of transmission line connecting China in limbo

Published On: December 8, 2022 03:00 PM NPT By: Himal Lamsal

KATHMANDU, Dec 8: The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) exported electricity worth Rs 7.55 billion to India during the period from mid-July to November of the current financial year, but the construction work of the transmission line connecting another neighboring country, China, has been delayed for seven years. After the Indian blockade in 2015, the Nepal government proposed an international transmission line connecting to China to reduce the country’s dependence on India.

In 2016, Nepal formally requested the construction of a 400 kV inland transmission line in the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border area. During the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's visit to China in 2018, it was agreed to study the Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi interprovincial transmission line according to the agreement between State Grid Corporation of China and NEA.

The proposed international transmission line, which is supposed to be 65 km towards Nepal, will connect to Jirong County in China. It is about 79 km away from the Rasuwagadhi border of Nepal towards China. In 2018, this project was placed under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Komalnath Aatreya, head of the Nepal-China international transmission line project, said that even though the Chinese government has adopted strict standards in response to the spread of Covid-19, mutual discussions and negotiations between the two countries have not been held. "The Chinese side has adopted a very strict protocol regarding Covid-19. Due to this, the necessary discussions on the Nepal-China international transmission line have not been held with the Chinese side," he said. "As soon as the anti-COVID-19 measures are withdrawn in China, the necessary discussions will proceed." He said that the pre-feasibility study for the construction of the 65.7 km transmission line towards Nepal will cost about Rs 13 billion.

Aatreya said that even a joint technical meeting between China and Nepal could not be held regarding the construction of the international Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung 400 kV transmission line between Nepal and China. "The detailed project report of the international transmission line has not yet been completed," he said.

Similarly, Aatreya said that the modality of construction of the transmission line will also be decided in the bilateral talks. "Almost everything has been prepared on our part," he said, "Necessary negotiations with the Chinese side will have to be finalized." He said that now the project has decided the route of the transmission line based on two types of routes from inside the national park and outside the park.

According to the project, so far both countries are conducting preliminary feasibility study and environmental impact assessment of the transmission line in their respective areas. The project took permission from the Department of Electricity Development four years ago to build a transmission line capable of trading 5,000 megawatts of electricity. Now, by adding 3,000 megawatts of electricity to the transmission line that will be built under the MCC project, 8000 megawatts of electricity can be exchanged with China.

Currently, there is only one transmission line of 400 kV connecting Nepal and India. There are more than half a dozen other smaller ones, but there is not a single transmission line connected to China. Therefore, this transmission line has a special meaning even in hydropower diplomacy. The authority said that with the construction of the transmission line, the door of electricity trade between Nepal and China will be opened in the coming days.




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