Parks become obstacles to transmission line extension

Published On: August 22, 2022 06:00 PM NPT By: Nagendra Upadhyaya

SURKHET, August 22: If there were no park and forest area along the Kohalpur-Surkhet transmission line, 132 kV electricity would have reached Karnali by September 15. Even though there is an agreement to complete it in two years, it is not known how many more years it will take for the 132 kV transmission line to enter Karnali.

The Indian company RS Infraproject Pvt Ltd took charge of the construction of the project so as to complete the work by September 15 at a cost of Rs 700 million. The project has not been able to move forward due to the lack of land acquisition. The transmission line distance from Kohalpur in Banke to Subbakuna in Surkhet, Birendranagar, is 51.46 km. Most of the transmission line area falls within two national parks.

"For the extension of the transmission line from Kohalpur to Surkhet, 62 bighas of land in Banke and Bardiya National Parks are needed," said Ravi Kumar Chaudhary, head of the project.

According to Chaudhary, a file has been submitted to the ministry concerned for the acquisition of land in the park area under the Land Acquisition Act. The ministry should conduct necessary studies and submit the said file to the Council of Ministers. “After the Council of Ministers decides in favor of land acquisition according to the Act, the process for land acquisition starts,” said Chaudhary, “Finding 62 bighas of land and handing it over to the park is an additional challenge for us.”

According to the National Park Act, when using the land of the park, an equal amount of land must be purchased and transferred to the person who is connected to the park area. On this account, the land falling on the 132 kV transmission line of Banke National Park and Bardiya National Park should be bought and given in the same area.

To bring the transmission line to Surkhet, 60 towers should be placed in Banke and Bardiya national parks. Project head Chaudhary says that land management in the park area is the biggest challenge for them. Although a Cabinet meeting decided to use the park's forest area for the Kohalpur-Surkhet 132 kV transmission line, there was no mention of the process through which the land would be purchased and given to the park. The issue of land acquisition has become more complicated after the national park asked the Council of Ministers to decide whether to provide land through the Land Acquisition Act or any other process.

"The Cabinet has not disclosed where to buy the land for the park, how to buy it, and by what process the land will be bought, so the Park has asked to clarify," he said, “Until the decision is made, the work of acquiring the land of the park will not proceed.”

The process after the Council of Ministers decides to do it according to the Land Acquisition Act is also long. The process of land purchase should be started by holding a meeting regarding land acquisition under the chairmanship of the Chief District Officer of the concerned district. The project is worried that land connected to the parks will not be available in Banke and Bardiya. It takes a lot of time until the land is transferred to the name of the park.

The process of land acquisition is different in the Forest Act and the National Park Act. In the Forest Act, the land is acquired after giving land or money according to the valuation, while in the National Park Act, it is provided by purchasing the land in the area connected to the park.

Project chief Chaudhary said that there is no problem in acquiring land other than the park. He informed that the necessary process for the use of land in the forest area has been completed. "For the extension of the transmission line from Kohalpur to Surkhet, 162 towers should be erected, out of which 75 towers are in the forest area," said Chaudhary.

According to Chaudhary, the cutting of trees in the forest area will be started from the current fiscal year. For the felling of trees in community forest areas, the forest user committee concerned and divisional forest office for national forest area will initiate the felling process.

As the 33 kV transmission line extended in 2045 could not meet the current demand, the construction of a 132 kV transmission line has been advanced. Indian company RS Infraproject Pvt Ltd has taken over the construction of the project at a cost of Rs 700 million.

Due to non-acquisition of land, the process of extending the project deadline by nine months has also started. The company will construct poles (towers) and connect wires (lines), while separate budgets have been arranged for land acquisition, tree cutting and substation construction. Chaudhary said that the foundations of 40 towers have been completed in places where there is no forest area.

"With the completion of the foundation in Surkhet and Banke areas, we are solving the problem in Banke's Gaver," he said, "There was confusion until the decision to allow the use of the forest area." The project claims that the 132 kV transmission line will reach Karnali within the next two years after the process of land acquisition for the park has progressed.

The project area includes Birendranagar Municipality of Surkhet, Bheriganga Municipality and Lekbesi Municipality, Banke and Bardiya National Parks, Bansagadhi Municipality of Bardiya, Kohalpur Municipality of Banke and Baijanath Rural Municipality. 

For the implementation of the power transmission line, the total land area will be 225 square meters, including various lands, community and government forest areas. Similarly, the project said that 98.0579 hectares of land is required for tower construction and substation construction.

Out of which 3.7249 hectares will be acquired permanently for the construction of a substation and 3.3075 hectares for the foundation of the tower while the remaining 91.0255 hectares of land will be used temporarily. The transmission line will start from the Kohalpur substation in Banke and end at Subbakuna substation in Surkhet.

As many as 162 towers including 26 double circuit angle towers will be constructed. The project has said that the process of calling for tenders for the construction of substations in Kohalpur and Surkhet has started. The project has completed land acquisition in Surkhet's Bheriganga Municipality, Birendranagar Municipality and Banke's Kohalpur area.

During the extension of the Kohalpur-Surkhet 132 kV power transmission line, 13,056 trees will be cut. As many as 6,820 trees will be cut in Surkhet, 3,320 in Bardiya and 2,916 trees in Banke.

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