POKHARA, June 11: Locals of Madi in Kaski district, where 25-MW Upper Madi Hydropower Project is located, have put forth a list of “fresh demands” to the Madi Power Pvt Ltd, the developer of the project. Officials claimed that such demands have created additional financial burden on the developer company. The project located at Madi ward number 6 and 7 came into operation in the last week of December.
Organizing a press meet on Thursday, operation manager of the company Wei Junchao said that the company has faced a double setback of natural disasters and local demands. He said they faced multiple problems in the past two years such as those caused by landslides and earthquakes and subsequent blockade imposed by India and that the “fresh demands” by locals has now further complicated the situation.
“On top of those severe effects, the new demands by the locals have added financial burden on us.”
During the start of the project, the company had signed a 23-point agreement with the people affected by the project including the Stakeholder Co-ordination Committee formed by the locals.
One of the project officials claimed that around Rs 300 million has already been spent to fulfill the locals' demands. “We have already done so much for the affected people. Now please stop asking more from us,” added operation manager Wei. “We are ready to help more if the project earns sufficient profits in the future. But a project in loss can't fulfill all demands.”
He added that they were ready to cooperate with the locals but that the latter should not create financial pressure on the company in the name of cooperation.
The project's Executive Chairman Bijaya Babu Malla claimed to have fulfilled all the 23-point demands. He accused the locals of coming up with the list of fresh demands.
He claimed that the developer company has already provided enough financial support for construction of roads, irrigation, agriculture, environment, schools, temples, health posts and for youth clubs, Aama Samuha [mother's groups] among others.
“We have also promised to provide an ambulance and other additional support to the locals in a month,” he said. “But the locals haven't stopped coming up with new lists of demands.”
He complained that they failed to satisfy the locals even after helping them in various tasks, which in fact should have been done by the government.
“The locals have developed a mindset that they can ask anything from the project developer which they are getting it for free,” he claimed.
President of the local stakeholders' committee Man Bahadur Gurung however said that they have pressurized to implement the demands included in the 23-point agreement.
“The developer is yet to complete some of the tasks as agreed in the past. We aren't putting forth any new demands,” he said.
Gurung claimed that the public has so many concerns in connection with the project being developed in their locality and that the company isn't asked to do all these things.
He, however, maintained that the developer must take responsibility if locals incur any loss or damage due to the project even after completion of the project.
The 25-MW hydropower project that came into operation in the last week of December is now generating 18-MW due to the receding water level in the river.
According to Malla, the project cost reached around Rs 7 billion, out of which China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) has invested 80 percent while Malla has 20 percent share.