At a time when the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)
has been trying to get the government to increase security for the construction of transmission lines, the Nepal Army has offered to ensure that local opposition doesn’t delay projects.
Acting COAS Pawan Jung Pande proposed this at a meeting with the Agriculture and Water Resources Ministry, saying the Army had enough technical know-how to help solve local conflicts.
Pande added the Army couldn’t intervene where the police and the APF were already present, but could help settle local disputes.
NEA Executive Director Mukesh Raj Kafle said it would be a catastrophe if transmission lines weren’t built in the next three years, saying the government had no alternative but to guarantee security to ensure timely construction of the projects.
“We see the Army’s willingness to help manage security in problematic areas as a positive sign. But we want this to be a temporary arrangement,” said Kafle.
Inspector General of Police Upendra Kanta Aryal, who was also present at the meeting, said the problems were becoming unmanageable in some places.
“There is danger that the whole project could collapse because of local obstruction in some places,” said Aryal. “In addition to misunderstanding over land acquisition and compensation, project sites are now being targeted.”
Local gangsters issued threats to construction crews and threatened local administration to stop pylons being put up.
The 200kV Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line was started 10 years ago but has been obstructed by locals and politicians, leading the World Bank to have second thoughts about the project. Similarly, the 132kV Thankot-Chapagaun-Bhaktapur transmission line has been stalled for 14 years due to locals’ obstruction in Kathmandu Valley, and the Hetauda-Kulekhani-Matatirtha line has not seen any progress in the last four years.
Rajeev Sharma of the NEA’s Grid Development Department says the process of adding double circuits on these lines is also being obstructed. If the lines aren’t completed in the next two years, Kathmandu will continue to face loadshedding.
But it isn’t only locals who are bickering with the NEA. In Sindhupalchok, politicians have been fighting over the Singati-Lamosanghu 132kV transmission line that will bring electricity from Tamakosi to Kathmandu. Elsewhere, the Hetauda-Bharatpur, Bharatpur-Bardaghat, Chilime-Samudratar, Trishuli-Kathmandu 220kV lines are also being objected by locals as well as the forest and environment ministries. Work has also hit a standstill on the Marsyangdi, Kali Gandaki and Solukhumbu corridors.
High tension in Sindhuli, Ramesh Kumar
Powerless future, Bhrikuti Rai
Infographic: High tension in Sindhuli, Ayesha Shakya