27 Dec 2015 | 21:56pm


KATHMANDU, Dec 28: Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Sunday held a meeting again on a controversial variation payment made under the Chameliya Hydroelectric Project and issued a fresh directive to carry out a re-evaluation of the payment. The committee held discussions with Energy Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and bureaucrats concerned  and directed the government to pay the contractor accordingly and expedite the project.Over a year has elapsed since construction of the project following the controversial decision of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) board to  make the payment  to the civil contractor.

Following the payment decision, PAC in September last year had directed that the variation payment for the 30 MW project be stopped, and later, following a probe report, it also directed the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to investigate and take action against those involved in the decision. The NEA board had decided to pay Rs 1.09 billion  to the civil contractor, China Gejuwa Group of Power Company (CGGC), for additional works occasioned by shrinkage in the project tunnel.

PAC also transferred its probe report to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for further investigations. MoE, meanwhile, remained silent over the issue, saying the case was now under the CIAA scanner. “We could not proceed further in the case as it was also under investigation by the CIAA,” said Gokarna Raj Pantha, assistant spokesperson at MoE. CIAA is said to be investigating the case but it has not yet filed any case in court. At the meeting on Sunday, PAC omitted previous talk of taking action against those involved in the payment decision last year. PAC Secretary Surendra Aryal informed that the PAC has also asked MoE not to apportion any blame on the PAC but rather to take an approach of addressing the problem as soon as possible. “MoE was neglecting the previous directive on the issue,” said Aryal adding that Energy Minister Rayamajhi had expressed commitment to a re-evaluation and sorting out of the problem. The controversial decision was made by the NEA board led by then energy minister Radha Gyawali. 

Meanwhile, over 90 percent of project work has been completed so far and the government expects to complete it within 10 months under its Energy Development Work Plan - 2015, devised four weeks ago to address the ongoing energy crisis. Multiple variations in expenditure on the project have nearly doubled the estimated cost as well as incurring time overruns. Talking to Republica, Rajendra Kumar KC, a lawmaker who also headed the PAC's probe panel on the payment last year, said MoE should no longer delay re-evaluation of the payment.