Investors still await construction of electrical sub-station at Bhairahawa SEZ

Published On: February 1, 2020 12:58 PM NPT By: Rekha Bhusal

BUTWAL, Feb 1: Three years have already passed since the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bhairahawa has been involved in trying to complete the tender procedure for the electric sub-station. In 2016, during the second inauguration of  the SEZ, former executive director Chandrika Prasad Bhatta had committed to complete the tender procedure within six months and construct the 33 KV sub-station in a year and half.

Bhatta worked as the executive director of the SEZ for two and half years but he failed to honor his commitment. Bhatta had blamed the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for not finalizing the design of the sub-station.  According to Sundar Thapa, the spokesperson of the SEZ, the tender process has stopped as the main position of the executive director had been vacant since September last year. Recently,  Sobha Kant Poudel, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Industry had been appointed as the executive director and the tender process will be started within a week, according to Thapa.

According to Laxman Bhattarai, engineer of the SEZ, there is no electricity specialist at SEZ and taking care of all technical issues has delayed the tender process. “It is hard to work according to the plan in absence of an electricity specialist,” said Bhattarai. The SEZ had recently hired an electricity specialist for drawing the design and preparing the required documents. “Tender document of the sub-station is in its final stage. The bidding process will begin from next week," said Bhattarai.              

In the initial phase, the sub-station with 33 KV were to be constructed with investment of Rs 150 million but now the investment has increased to Rs 170 million. 

According to the officials, they are preparing the tender procedure to complete the construction of the substation in 15 months. 

According to Thapa, there is availability of five megawatts of electricity, and for present, there won't be any issues in operating industries. Investors have long demanded that there must be construction of a sub-station with other infrastructure and services for the effective management of the SEZ.

According to Rajesh Agrawal, a regional member of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, lack of human resources and leadership are the reasons for the SEZ not being able to move forward even after five years of its inauguration. Agrawal questioned, “Why has the SEZ not constructed infrastructure for electricity even after five years of inauguration? Head of concerned agencies and employees must be answerable as they have not been able to operate SEZ on its own concept in these years?”

There are 69 plots of 1,600 to 1,700 square meters in 52 bigha of land in the SEZ. So far, 19 industries have signed the land rental agreement and are paying the rent. Some investors have withdrawn from the agreement of SEZ as it lacks adequate infrastructure and services.

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