While preparations are underway at Arun III (900 MW) hydroelectric project site in Sankhuwasabha district for its inauguration by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit next week, a group attacked the project site a couple of days back. Arun III suffered such attacks two times before. Unfortunately, such senseless attack on development projects is not limited to Arun III. We have in the past seen repeated attempts by various groups to thwart development projects under different pretext. This is not only unacceptable, such attempts must be strongly foiled and the guilty must be brought to book. There is no doubt that Arun III is the project of huge importance for the eastern region and the entire country. But as is the case it became the victim of geopolitical game and the mistrust that developed between the World Bank and the government of Nepal in the early 1990s. When the project is finally taking off, it has started to come under attack. The project must take off right away and completed on time so that Nepal will be benefitted.
Many of our hydro projects have been stalled already because companies and individuals bought the license and did nothing for years. Slow pace of work has hampered their completion. Others were delayed due to corruption and mismanagement of resources. Then there were natural disasters. Upper Tamakoshi (456 MW) is about to be complete in few months. Upper Trishuli 3A is in progress. But other projects, like Arun III, have come under attack from radical political outfits. Netra Bikram Chand-led party seems to be at the forefront of this heinous act. They have resorted to extortion. Some of their cadres have been arrested while trying to extort money from project sites. Chand’s group must be watched and the government must arrest and file cases against those individuals involved in bombing and other illegal activities. If we fail to check them now, it might become the cause of deep worry for us in the future.
Our development projects have seen enough of activism and a number of other obstructionist activities. As a result, some of our big projects remain incomplete today, even decades after the projects commenced work at the site. This has also sent a negative message to investors from India and China who want to come to Nepal and put their money in hydro projects. Of course, genuine concerns of the locals and other stakeholders must be addressed properly. But authorities should leave no stone unturned in removing other obstructions. Nepalis have found relief from darkness only for the last couple of years also with the help of imported electricity. If we are to make the country load-shedding free in the true sense we will have to complete many hydro projects on time and develop many others. Timely completion of hydro projects could potentially become the game changer in our national aspiration for prosperity and development. Those who come to create hurdles in this mission need to be dealt with harsh punishment.