Mar 12, 2019-
As the government gears up for the Nepal Investment Summit, senior officials told the Post that it is planning to invite foreign investors again for the development of West Seti Hydroelectric Project. The Investment Board Nepal has said that the West Seti project will be one of the four dozen projects which the government plans to showcase during the investment summit scheduled for March 29-30.
Developers can come up with letters of intent for the development of the West Seti and a few other hydropower projects, Maha Prasad Adhikari, chief executive officer of the Investment Board, said in an interview with the Post. The multi-billion project was in limbo after the China Three Gorges International (CTGI) backed out in August 2018, citing financial infeasibility.
After the deal with the Chinese developer collapsed, the government had formed a three-member task force comprising the energy minister, the finance minister and the chief executive of the Investment Board to work on a new modality for developing the project.
The task force is yet to submit its final report. Along with the three-member task force, a separate technical committee, led by a joint-secretary at the Energy and Water Resource Ministry, was also formed to review the project’s installed capacity and other issues.
The Chinese developer had also asked the government for a downward revision of the installed capacity of the proposed 750MW project, arguing this was necessary to make the project financially viable. During the final negotiation with the Chinese side, the government was also positive about the CTGI’s proposal. In fact, slashing the installed capacity of the project was one of the recommendations made by the panel formed in March 2017 under the secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office.
In its recommendation to the IBN, the seven-member panel had given two options: first, developing the project by the federal government on its own in coordination with the provincial government if it scraps the deal with the Chinese company; and second, slashing the installed capacity to 600MW as proposed by the Chinese company and allowing it to proceed with the project. But the Chinese side did not agree. Adhikari, the Investment Board chief, did not divulge much about the recommendation of the technical committee--whether it has proposed the downward revision of the project’s capacity. “The whole idea is to make the project attractive so that it can draw the attention of foreign investors,” he said.
It’s almost three decades since the project was first proposed in the early 1990s. Australia’s Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation held the survey licence for almost two decades without any significant progress. In 2012, the Investment Board and the Chinese company signed a memorandum of understanding to construct the project spanning across Baitadi, Bajhang, Dadeldhura and Doti districts.