KATHMANDU, Nov 3: Locals affected by the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) have demanded that they be paid royalty of Rs 5 per 10,000 liters of water supplied to the Kathmandu Valley.
Submitting its demand to the government, the Hyalmo Sindhu Melamchi Valley Social Upliftment Program Implementation Committee has argued that the project should pay royalty like hydropower projects as the water that could have been by used by hydropower plants will now be supplied to the capital city.
Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation has formed a panel to study the demands and make suggestions for addressing the demands placed by the locals. The panel is led by Sanjeev Rana, the executive director of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board. Representatives of the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation, Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, Melamchi Water Supply Project are also in the panel.
Sanjay Sharma, secretary of the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation, said that the committee will start its works within few days. It has been given 45 days to submit its report, added Sharma“ "I personally think providing assistance in development works for the welfare of project affected people is more feasible than the royalty modalit”," he said, adding that the committee will study international practice on such issues before arriving at the conclusion“ "It will also consider the water tariff in the Kathmandu Valley before submitting its repor”."
The government is still to decide new tariff even though the Melamchi water is expected to be distributed in the Kathmandu Valley from October next year.
Fourteen affected Village Development Committees (VDCs) have been getting Rs 80 million annually for development works. The additional demand by local is sure to put extra burden on the state coffer. It is also likely to affect tariff of water supplied to valley denizens.
During Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's recent visit to the project site, lawmaker of Sindhupalchowk, Sher Bahadur Tamang, had requested the PM to address local's demand regarding royalty. PM Dahal had assured to address the demand.
Government officials, however, say that the decision to provide royalty to Melamchi affected locals will set a wrong precedent. They say that other drinking water projects will face difficulty if similar demand came from affected locals of other projects.