Located in three districts - Surkhet, Achham and Dailekh - Upper Karnali is a 900MW hydropower project. The project was awarded to GMR through a competitive bid process in 2008 as an export-oriented project aimed at the Indian market. GMR is a responsible Indian developer with an excellent track record in delivering projects on time. GMR’s most recent success story is the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, which has received the world’s second best airport award.

Salient Features

Investment Size (Approx.)  NA 
Developer Generation: GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Limited
Transmission: Upper Karnali Transmission P. Ltd
(GMR-ITD Consortium)
PPP Model Build, Operate, Own and Transfer
GoN Partner Ministry of Energy (MOE)
Location Dam Site: Lat 28° 55’ 23” N Long 81°28’ 20” E
Power House: Lat 28° 54’ 02” N Long 81°26’ 40” E
Design Energy 3466 MU
Gross Head 159.26 m
Reservoir (Gross Storage) 17.86 MCM
Hydrology 21,458 km²
Dam Height (Max) 64m from deepest foundation level and
30m from river bed level
Dam Type Concrete Gravity Dam
Turbine Francis
Design Discharge 664.32 cumec
Head Race Tunnel RTs of 10m diameter of length 2332m and 2220m

Expected Benefits

Financial Benfits:

Free Equity and Energy: Nepal will receive 27% free equity and 12% free energy from the Upper Karnali project. This amounts to 108 MW of electricity, approximately equal to 15% of the current installed capacity in Nepal.

Royalties and Taxes: Expected financial benefits to Nepal in terms of revenue from taxes, royalties, free energy and free equity will be around Rs. 300 billion. Fifty percent of the royalties will go to the Treasury, 38% to the affected region and 12% to the affected districts – Surkkhet, Achham and Dailekh.

Employment: The project will generate employment opportunities for local people. Projects of this scale generally create 2000 direct jobs during the peak construction period.


Local Benefits:

Development  of  the Karnali  region:  Project will  generate employment  for  the locals,  boost  local industries,  and foster entrepreneurship. Other Projects of this scale have generated over 2000 direct jobs during peak construction period.

Industrial Benefits:  Nepali suppliers will be given a fair opportunity to compete. Growth of local shops, traders, catering & hotel services, etc. 

Rural Electrification & Local Shares:  Electrification of  affected areas and option to purchase shares.

Robust  Community  Infrastructure  and  Financial  Support: Construction of  roads,  bridges,  schools,  healthcare  and community  centers,  etc. to provide  a  robust  community infrastructure.  Skills training and other programs will provide great financial support to the affected communities.


IBN Project Cycle

Phases of Project


Land acquisition, resettlement and sustainable environment management are major challenges all large-scale infrastructure projects face. IBN is working closely with GMR, concerned line agencies and local communities to ensure a smooth, transparent process that results in a win-win for all: the local people, the project company and the Government of Nepal. 

Way Forward

Implementation of the Project Development Agreement (PDA) signed between GoN and GMR on 19th Sept  2014




Related Contents

Upper Karnali HEP PDA pdf

Upper Karnali HEP PDA

Outreach Material, Project Development Agreement

Upper Karnali HEP

PDA between GoN and GMR

Upper Karnali Field Visit Report (Nepali) pdf

Upper Karnali Field Visit Report (Nepali)

Field visit report from Surkhet, Dailekh and Achaam.
11-16 Falgun 2071