Villages left in darkness as hydropower project falls flat

Published On: August 8, 2016 12:20 AM NPT By: Arjun Oli

NEPALGUNJ, Aug 8: The construction company awarded the contract of a rural hydropower project based in Khaskusma VDC of Banke district has already renewed its contract twice. Yet, it has failed to produce electricity as villages are still reeling under total darkness at night.

The Community Rural Electrification Department (CRED) of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) had offered the contract worth Rs 35 million to Janamukhi Constructions. As per the contract, nine wards of Khaskusma VDC were supposed to have electricity by the fiscal year 2014/015. According to NEA, 2,825 households of the VDC would benefit from electricity upon completion of the project.

However, the project has long remained stranded due to negligence on part of the contractor. After failing to meet the objective on time, the contract was extended for one year up to 2015/016. Even then, the company could not complete the task. Hence, preparation is underway to extend the contract in the ongoing fiscal year as well.

The contractor is solely focused on renewing its contract instead of focusing to complete its task on time, according to the locals. They blamed the government for failing to take action against the negligent contractor.

“We had high hopes but our patience is running out. Despite all these years, we still are left without electricity,” said Kamal Karki, a local of Khaskushma-7.

Lack of electricity has affected locals in many ways. They are not able to adopt modern approach in agriculture, and are also deprived of better health services, education, water facilities among others.

Khaskusma is the biggest VDC in the district and lies in a remote location. It is also the farthest VDC from the district headquarters Nepalgunj, making it very difficult to carry out developmental works.

“The delay in completion is unacceptable. Though the contractor is at fault, the government's policy is also to be blamed,” said Rameshwar Prashad Kalwar, chief of the CRED. He added that the need to install electricity poles inside the Banke National Park also caused the delay significantly. He, however, wished not to comment on the contract renewal.

Contractors have to erect 1,500 electricity poles and 13 transformers inside the national park. Sources informed that they are yet to erect 400 poles.

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