KATHMANDU, May 9: Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun has said that the government will build the 1200 MW Budhigandaki Hydropower Project on its own and the tender process for the project will begin from next fiscal year. Budhigandaki is currently the only ready-to-implement reservoir-based hydropower project. The project’s Detailed Project Report (DPR) and tender documents are ready, according to officials.
Speaking at a function organized to unveil the white paper on energy, water resources and irrigation in Kathmandu on Tuesday, Pun said that the government will arrange financing for the project and develop the project. He also informed that the government is currently exploring the sources of financing. The project’s estimated cost is Rs 259 billion.
The statement by Minister Pun, a senior CPN (Maoist Center) leader, on the mega plant is a change from the July 2017 decision by the same party’s Energy Minister Janardan Sharma and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Tuesday’s decision on the project is however a continuation of the former Sher Bahadur Deuba government’s decision to develop it through domestic resources. In November last year, the Deuba government had terminated the contract for the project awarded to Chinese company China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) and decided to develop it on its own.
A week after the Deuba government’s decision, KP Oli, the then main opposition leader and prospective next prime minister, had expressed dissatisfaction over the government decision and promised to roll it back.
But Pun, one of the key ministers in the Oli cabinet, did not clarify whether Oli has changed his stance on the project. Replying to Republica’s query Tuesday, Pun’s aide Roshan Khadka said, “We are working on the modality for developing the project and also exploring the sources for financing the mega project.”
Kundan Aryal, the prime minister’s press advisor, said he could not answer the question himself and the prime minister was not immediately available for a response.
In July last year, the then government led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had decided to award the project to the Chinese firm without competitive bidding. The decision had been criticized by the parliamentary committees and the intelligentsia questioning the poor track record of the Chinese firm in Nepal.