SANKHUWASABHA: The Office of the Investment Board Nepal (OIBN) organized interactions on the local benefit plan with local governments and government agencies in Sankhuwasabha district. The programs were conducted in rural municipalities affected by the Arun-3 hydropower project to share the highlights of the Local Benefits Distribution and Skills Training Plan to be implemented at the local level.
The final draft of the Local Benefits Distribution and Skills Training Plan was prepared by the OIBN and SAPDC, the developer of Arun-3 hydropower project, as per the provisions made in the Project Development Agreement (PDA) signed in 2014. It cover all six wards of Makalu Rural Municipality, three wards of Chichila Rural Municipality and one ward each of Silichyong Rural Municipality and Bhotkhola Rural Municipality. The plan’s integrated policy includes the Nepal Employment and Skills Development Training, Local Industrial Development Plan, and Infrastructure Development Plan.
Under the previous administrative structure, six VDCs- Pathibhara, Num, Yaphu, Makalu, Diding and Pawakhola were designated as project-affected areas after the developer acquired around 49 hectare of land belonging to 269 households of the then Pathibhara, Num, Yaphu and Diding VDCs. Two additional VDCs - Pawakhola and Makalu were later designated as project-affected.
The Local Benefits Plan is the first of its kind being implemented in Nepal in a project developed under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. The plan will be implemented in collaboration with the developer, project-impacted people and local governments. The plan will formally be shared with people-affected by the project and representatives of 11 wards from the four rural municipalities affected by the project after incorporating comments received from the local governments and concerned government agencies. The OIBN will approve the plans once it is shared with them.
The constitution of Nepal envisions the distribution of benefits from the project to project-affected people and the region in return for the utilization of local resources. Such programs are also expected to establish cooperation between the project developer, local governments and the project-affected people during the development process.
The project-developer has already conducted surveys at the local level to identify the necessities and skills training required for local people. Under the Nepal Employment and Skill Training Plan, the developer of the Arun-3 project has offered a number of benefits that includes opportunities for acquiring basic skills training to 725 affected people, 3-year diploma courses for 39 people, and 4-year engineering courses for 20 people.
Under the Local Benefits Distribution and Skills Training Plan, the project is supposed to spend 0.5 percent of the project cost on the Project Area Development Plan in 11 wards of the four affected rural municipalities, mainly in enhancing road access and improving educational, health, drinking water and community infrastructures. All these benefits are in addition to the compensation being paid to people for the loss of their land and other assets.
The Local Benefits Distribution and Skills Training Plan also has a provision to implement rural electrification by providing 30 units of electricity to project affected-households free of cost on a monthly basis. It also provides project shares worth Rs. 1.6 billion to local people. Under the plan, a local industrial development program has been drawn to offer business opportunities to local industries, suppliers and service providers.
Similarly, under the Local Infrastructure Development Program, the developer is spending Rs. 336.8 million to implement various development activities at the local level. The plan envisages enhancing road access, foot trail rehabilitation, developing community drinking water supplies in schools, building community irrigation, and constructing school and health infrastructure. It also includes plans for community infrastructure programs like the construction of cardamom storage units, community centers, supporting local cottage industries, upgrading communication towers, and promoting local tourism. ♦