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Nepal to build 750 megawatt West Seti hydroelectric project

“We will mobilise Nepal’s internal resources and build theWest Seti hydroelectric project,” the country’s Finance Minister YubarajKhatiwada said while unveiling a $12.18 billion annual budget in parliament onTuesday.

The announcement effectively scraps a $1.6 billion plan bythe Chinese firm to build the plant on West Setiriver in the west of theHimalayan nation, the second such plant to be withdrawn from Chinese buildersin six months.

Three Gorges, China’s biggest hydropower developer and theoperator of the world’s largest hydropower plant at the Three Gorges dam on theYangtze river, could not be immediately contacted for comments on Nepal’sdecision.

In 2015, Nepal cleared the Chinese firm to build thelong-delayed West Seti hydropower project that was scheduled for completion by2021-22. Power from the facility was to be sold to Nepal which now importsnearly 500 megawatts of electricity from India to offset crippling shortages.

According to Nepali officials, work had yet to begin as theChinese company was haggling with the government for better terms onconstruction and tariffs.

In November last year, Nepal scrapped a $2.5 billion dealwith another Chinese company, Gezhouba Group, to build a 1,200 MW hydroelectricplant on the BudhiGandakiriver also in west Nepal.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Nepal is opening upits vast hydropower potential to help ease chronic power shortages and developan economy still emerging from a decade-long civil war and a devastatingearthquake that killed 9,000 people in 2015.

That has prompted a rush by China and India to investbillions exploiting their neighbour’srivers.This month, India began theconstruction of a 900 MW hydro-power project to be built in east Nepal bystate-run Indian firm SatlujJalVidyut Nigam (SJVN) Limited at a cost $1.04billion during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Nepal.

Nepal is estimated to have the potential to generate some42,000 MW of hydropower, but it currently produces 1,000 MW — less than thedemand of about 1,500 MW.

Source: The Himalayan Times, May 30 2018

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