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Three Gorges could drop the idea altogether

N24 Correspondent, KATHMANDU: China Three Gorges Corp might shelve its proposed $1.6 billion hydroelectric-power project.It would be a big setback for Nepal if that happens.

China Three Gorges has “sent a letter to the government on Friday saying if things are not moving and the dilemma continues, we can mutually agree to pull out of the project.”

This came from said Arjun Kumar Karki, joint secretary in the policy and foreign-coordination section of Ministry of Energy. “But we see it as our priority project and we are committed to it.”

He said the government is planning to communicate this in its written reply to the Chinese company in the next few days.

A China Three Gorges official said it is up to Nepal’s government to decide whether to proceed with the project.

The brouhaha stems from a probe by a parliamentary committee on natural resources.

Committee members had voiced concerns the government granted the project to the Chinese company hastily, without inviting international competitive bidding as has been the general practice..

Chaudhary said her committee will submit its report to the parliament within a week. “If we find any irregularity, we will simply ask both sides to follow the proper procedures,” she said.

Karki said the government had the power under the country’s water-resources law to grant hydropower projects to any company without a bidding process. “We are hopeful of a positive decision from the parliamentary committee,” he said.

On Feb. 29, China Three Gorges and the government signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a 750-megawatt hydroelectric dam and power project on the Seti River in northwestern Nepal.

They agreed on a public-private partnership called West Seti Hydropower Development Ltd. in which Nepal’s state power utility will hold 25% and the Chinese company the rest.

The government has sought foreign investment in its hydropower industry, which many Nepalis believe can put their poor country on the path to prosperity through the sale of surplus energy to its neighbors, India and China.

Published Date: Saturday, March 24th, 2012 | 06:30 PM

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