Energy Minister proposes increasing investment share of migrant workers in Dhunsakhola and Simbuwakhola hydro projects

Published On: August 16, 2020 08:23 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 16: Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun has directed concerned government officials to increase the share of Nepali migrant workers in the Dhunsakhola and Simbuwakhola Hydropower Project. 

The directive comes in the wake of the government’s preparation to increase the share size of Nepali migrant workers as compared to the one proposed previously.

Speaking at a meeting of the Citizen’s Hydropower Project Program Operation and Management Committee on Friday, Energy Minister Barsaman Pun directed Hydropower Investment Development Company Limited (HIDCL) to take forward the process of increasing the investment percentage of remittances.

The responsibility to construct and bring both hydropower projects into operation has been provided to Remit Hydro, a subsidiary company of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation. The ministry has already started the construction process through the company to build 77.5 MW Dhunsa and 70.3 MW hydro projects by investing the remittances sent by Nepali migrant workers.

Earlier, the investment concept for both the projects consisted of 30 percent investment from remittance and the remaining 70 percent from banks and financial institutions, development partners, locals and the general public. Minister Pun has directed the HiDCL to prepare modalities so that every Nepali living abroad can invest Rs 500,000 in the hydropower projects.

“We have felt that the share for Nepalis living abroad is less at the moment,” said Minister Pun. “If the share is increased, at least an interested individual can invest Rs 500,000 per person and the family of that person can benefit from the monthly income and the person will no longer have to go abroad for foreign employment.”

Arguing that the investment model of Dhunsa and Simbuwakhola Projects is remittance-based. Minister Pun said that maximum number of Nepalis living abroad should be included in the projects. He argued that those living abroad can come back and can have a source of regular income in the form of pension after returning to Nepal if the share size of migrant workers is increased.

Minister Pun also directed the company to find out the countries from which migrant workers will be able to invest in each of these two projects. “Nepalis living in any country can make the investment but decide on the countries from where people can invest in these two projects,” he said.

The process of detailed engineering study and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of both the projects is already in the final stage. The project’s investment proposal has been sent to the Investment Board Nepal for approval. However, the projects are yet to sign a power purchase agreement with the Nepal Electricity Authority. A feasibility study has shown that an estimated Rs 21 billion investment will be required for the construction of these projects.

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