KATHMANDU, Aug 1: The cost of Chameliya Hydropower Project (30 MW) is likely to increase further, owing to delay because of the intervention by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament.
PAC had stopped Rs 1.09 billion worth of variation payment to the project two years ago. Because of this, remaining 5 percent works of the project is still incomplete.
Payment review by the consultant, as suggested by PAC some six months ago, shows that price will increase further. This means the government will have to spend more money on top of Rs 1.09 billion, mainly for the delay.
Shah, Silt and Icon JV, the consultant for the project's civil works, submitted a price review report on Friday for treatment of squeezed section of 843-meter tunnel. The report states that Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) should pay additional money for inflation of two years and also to make up for loss due to currency depreciation.
"Squeezed works, which were scheduled to be done in 2013 and 2014, need more payment now as per the consultant's repor”," Rajendra Manandhar, manager of Chamelia Hydropower Project, said.
The report will be tabled in the board of NEA for final decision soon.
Civil contractor China Gejuwa Group of Power Company (CGGC) had completed 631 meters of squeezed section before PAC intervened. Officials say it takes only four months to complete the remaining 211 meters and another two months to begin generation.
The project has the capacity to generate 184 million units of hydropower annually worth Rs 1.31 billion, based on NEA's selling price. If it were not for PAC's intervention, the project would have been completed by February 2015 and generated hydropower worth Rs 1.97 billion by now, a highly placed official of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) said.
PAC has alleged that former energy minister Radha Gyawali was involved in corruption of about Rs 450 million while approving variation payment of Rs 1.09 billion for the contractor. The parliamentary panel had also referred the case to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). Though the constitutional anti-graft watchdog launched investigation into the case, it is yet to charge-sheet the accused.
Lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada denied accusation that PAC was behind the delay“ "We only wanted to know the recipient of Rs 450 million (about 40 percent of the variation order payment) as the contractor received 60 percent of the amount in US dolla”," he added“ "But CIAA did not take any actio”."
Energy Secretary Suman Sharma, who is incumbent chair of NEA's board, agreed that delay in project has resulted to energy loss. "CGGC has refused to resume tunnel treatment work on provisional rates as per the law and seeking decision on final rate before resuming works," Sharma said.
The project's cost has increased by 63 percent to Rs 13.91 billion, including the controversial Rs 1.09 billion. Works in access road to head works, power house and tail race, dam and spillway, and headrace tunnel, among others, has caused six cost variations.
The project, which started in 2007, was scheduled to be completed in 2011.