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Nepal, India begin talks to build 6,720 MW power project

Kathmandu, Sep 22 Three days after Nepal and Indian infrastructure major GMR sealed a deal to develop the 900 MW Upper Karnali hydropower project in the Himalayan nation, senior officials from the two neighbours Monday resumed talks to build another mega bilateral power project in Nepal.

Talks at the secretary-level between Nepal and India have resumed in Kathmandu to develop the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project that will have an installed capacity of 6,730 MW on the Mahakali river bordering Nepal and India.

The Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) is part of the Mahakali Treaty signed in 1996 between Nepal and India which is called a bi-national hydropower project. The meeting is expected to finalise the status of the long due multipurpose project.

Both sides have agreed that the office of the project would be located in the Nepali side and will have the CEO on a rotational basis from Nepal and India, an official said. Once the status is finalised, it will pave the way for commencement of the project at the earliest.

Then the process of forming the Pancheswor Development Authority (PDA) will begin. Once the PDA is set up, it will seek financial arrangement, put money and begin the development of the project.

Rajendra Kishor Chhettri is leading the Nepali delegation while the Indian delegation is being led by Alok Rawat, secretary in the ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.

The PMP has been envisaged to have maximum peak power benefit to the order of 6,720 MW (Pancheshwar High Dam – 6,480 MW and Rupali Gad re-regulating dam – 240 MW) with average annual energy production of 12,333 gigawatt hours (GWh). The project will have a 315 metre-high rock-filled dam with a central earthen core whose reservoir would be extended north from the exact project site in the Nepali side.

In this round of talks, officials will discuss endorsing the statute, appointment of officials, including chief executive officer, and the operational guidelines of the authority headquarters.

Though signed some 18 years back, the project has not made any progress so far but got a new lease of life after the two countries exchanged notes on the authority’s terms of reference (ToRs) during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit in the first week of August.

Nepal and India have already agreed to the setting up of the PDA’s headquarter in Mahendranagar in Nepal. They have also agreed that the chief executive will be chosen on the basis of the candidate’s qualifications, relevant experience and track record. The chief executive will also play the role of member secretary of the governing body, which will comprise six permanent members and invitational members from both the nations.

Once the authority starts functioning, it will prepare an integrated detailed project report.

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