Nepali Times Asian Paints
June 5, Environment Day
Maoists block Upper Marsyangdi


DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA in LAMJUNG


PICS: DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA
STALLED: Project staff inspect the tunnel of the Upper Marsyangdi-II project in Syange, Lamjung

Maoist threats have stopped preparatory work on a 600 megawatt Indian hydropower joint venture on the Marsyangdi, showing how political instability is affecting infrastructure work on the ground and possibly what lies in store for the country under federalism.

The Rs 70 billion Upper Marsyangdi-II project entails building a 15 km tunnel from Dharapani, Tal Bajar in Manang to the powerhouse in Syange of Lamjung, and is being jointly built by India's GMR and the Nepali company Himtal Hydro.

When completed in five years it will export electricity to India and also provide power to Nepal's domestic grid.

However, the preparatory work on the project has been stalled since February by the Maoists as part of their anti-India campaign. Eighty per cent of the detailed project planning had been completed, including a 300 m tunnel to study the geology of the area. Eight engineers and 80 workers have left because of the prolonged deadlock.

The Maoist Tamu Liberation Front closed down work, threatening dire consequences, and the district administration has stood by, helpless. They say the project is 'anti-national' because the electricity will go to India.

"We will only allow large projects like these after the state restructuring commission determines the sharing of natural resources between the centre and federal units," Maoist Lamjung in-charge Devendra Parajuli (pic, right) told us.

However, district leaders of other political parties say the only thing holding things up is the Maoist demand for a payoff before letting the work resume, which GMR and Himtal have denied them.

"This is not about nationalism or sovereignty, its because the company and the Maoists are bargaining about extortion," says Krishna Koirala of the NC. The UML's Jamindra Ghale agrees. He says local all-party meetings have proposed that the work should be allowed to go on because the locals would benefit from jobs, but the Maoists refuse to listen.

Seventy per cent of the population of Lamjung are Gurung and other indigenous people, and the district chairman of the Janjati Federation Khem Jung Gurung says: "The project people are willing to talk, but the Maoists are pursuing their own political agenda at the cost of our development. I don't understand what the Maoists get out of this."

The stoppage of the Upper Marsyangdi-II project mirrors national level political polarisation, and provides an ominous portent of how carving up Nepal into federal units will complicate natural resource exploitation at a time when both water and power have become precious commodities.

Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, coordinator of the FNCCI Hydro Power Development Forum, warns that the Maoist attitude will prove ruinous to Nepal's development. For the Maoists to promise 10,000 MW while they were in government and obstruct work here now doesn't make sense. Development should not have to wait for federalism. After all, whoever lives here will benefit from the project."

Lamjung CDO Hom Nath Thapaliya says he is prepared to provide security to the project "after a political agreement is reached". But Himal Hydro's Ram Hari Sharma says he can't complete the 20 per cent of remaining work on the detailed project study until there is security. Most of the work done so far will be destroyed by monsoon rains, and will have to restarted at enormous cost.

If started next year, the project will be completed by 2016, and will provide jobs to at least 3,000 people in that period. The project has helped build 14 km of the Besisahar to Chame road. The 70 megawatt German-supported Middle Marsyangdi project, inaugurated in 2008, was delayed by five years because of Maoist obstruction during the conflict.

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1. pravasi nepali
The bloody maoists destroyed many power stations. Nepal facing power shortages is due to them. They want extortions from the indian co. so that they can buy weapons to further loot nepalese.
They have become malignant cancer in nepal.


2. jange
But the Maoists are behaving  entirely according to their principles and character. So, why complain?

If the same actions were OK to get political achievements why is the same action not OK for electrical achievements??


3. Shridevi

 UML, Congress and the  other parties in government are not concerned about security, development and welfare of the ordinary people. They are concerned  only about their seats . Maoist being what they are; warrants no mention here.

The country will never have proper security and development works running, when the government of the day let the Maoist to carry on whatever they want as long as it does not affect the ruling parties political power and position..

So what do we have here: two factions bend on destroying the country and burdening the ordinary citizens day-in and day-out. 



4. arun
The maoist are a  regressive force.Their anti India stance on every issue will take the country back ward.Even USA ca not ignore India.But people of Nepal in genera love India bashing,its our favorite time pass.Nepal can become one of the richest Asian nations by exploiting hydro power but for the politicians it will never happen.




5. Mahila Gurung

Hats off once again to the Maoist for obstructing the development of the country. The residents of Lamjung, the Gurungs,  need to revolt to flush out the Maoist who are blocking the development of the district. How can a handful of people who call themselves maoist and extortionists stop billions of dollars being invested in the country to create employment and generate wealth. Such projects in the country will stop our brothers and sisters in migrating to India to seek petty jobs. These people do not want the local residents to improve their economy. They just want to divide the existing wealth of the people and share the bounty. We need to first multiply the wealth and divide it. The days of the Maoist are soon coming to an end with such actions.



6. Arthur
"The stoppage of the Upper Marsyangdi-II project mirrors national level political polarisation, and provides an ominous portent of how carving up Nepal into federal units will complicate natural resource exploitation at a time when both water and power have become precious commodities."

The stoppage shows how the absence of federalism complicates (in fact stops) such projects.

Understanding that local people need to be consulted and actually benefit from such projects instead of simply being pushed aside has never been possible with a centralized state, which has not been able to get a single big export hydro project off the ground and never will.





7. Prithvi Raj
Here we go again.  Maoists want us to believe that they are blocking development initiatives like this one for the wider welfare of the country.  This is what "progressive" forces do. What a concept!

8. npasd
but where is your analysis on real cost of haphazardly constructing such large projects by foreign companies in nepal solely for financial reasons, and leaving any environmental and future cost to nepalis for generations? forget the maoists, any political party and their dalals will sell such project to foreign money-man for peanut commissions. what are nepalis exactly getting out of such huge project? trinkets.


9. hange

"Seventy per cent of the population of Lamjung are Gurung and other indigenous people, and the district chairman of the Janjati Federation Khem Jung Gurung says: "The project people are willing to talk, but the Maoists are pursuing their own political agenda at the cost of our development. I don't understand what the Maoists get out of this."

Arthur, the stoppage actually shows the absence of any genuine concern that the Maoists have for the local and general population.

". . . meetings have proposed that the work should be allowed to go on because the locals would benefit from jobs, but the Maoists refuse to listen."

The last line says it all: the Maoists refuse to listen. 



10. Arthur
hange #9, article says the Tamu liberation front shut down the work and quotes local leaders of anti-Maoist parties and their ethnic fronts in support of the project.

No reason to doubt that there is both local opposition and local support for the project at present. There usually is. But it remains a project for the benefit of others and will not be able to go ahead until locals generally feel a stake in it.

The article and you listen to one side. The article does not even attempt to discuss any long term compensation for environmental damage and dislocation to local people.

Federalism will take such decisions involving both sides so that there really will be general support, not just supporters demanding that opponents be brushed aside as usual and that investors reap the rewards and locals bear the costs as usual.


11. yam gurung
Without commission nothing moves forward in Nepal.If the big project like this take place.These puppet leaders of Nepal must not put the svereign and svereignty of our beautiful Nepal in the hand of the foreigners.

12. King Kong

# 9 hange

Only 31.69% of the population of Lamjung are Gurungs.Pl.get your figure corrected.Do,nt quote your figure out of your hat or sleeves.



13. kaley

The road to besisahar from dumre took three decades to complete. Let the goverment first build the basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges and irrigation canals in this valley which is as big as pokhara. If they want electricity, the district of lamzung should also get something in return.  



LATEST ISSUE
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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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