Govt Responds to Chinese firm saying ‘there is nothing to worry about’

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Energy today wrote to China Three Gorges International Corporation, four days after the Chinese company sought information on developments regarding the West Seti Hydro Project for which it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ministry recently.

According to Energy Ministry Spokesperson Arjun Karki, the ministry in the letter has informed the Chinese company that discussions at the parliamentary committee were but a regular phenomenon and that there was no need to worry.

The Chinese firm had expressed its concern following discussions at the parliamentary Natural Resources and Means Committee regarding the MoU, during which lawmakers had not only raised some questions, including why the government decided to grant the project to the Chinese firm without calling for international bidding, but also had doubted whether there was any ill-intention involved. “We have written that the (House) committee will take a decision in favour of the MoU rather than complicating the whole process,” said Karki.

The House panel on Monday said it would reach a decision regarding the project in 10 days.

The Energy Ministry today also replied to the parliamentary committee, which had raised 16 questions regarding the MoU. The ministry has said the MoU was signed as per the existing laws and that there was no ill-intention involved. “The ministry has said the understanding was reached as per the Clause 35 of Electricity Act 1992 which allows the government to grant any project to any developer that it finds eligible,” said a high-level source at the ministry, adding that in due course all the concerns raised by lawmakers will be addressed.

“Issues like Power Purchase Agreement, currency for PPA, dispute resolving agency and incentives to be given to the company will be discussed in future as MoU is not the perfect and final agreement; it’s just a common understanding to start work,” the letter has mentioned.

The 750 MW West Seti in the far-west region is the only ready-for-construction project with detailed project report already completed. “This project was granted to Snowy Mountain Energy Company 16 years ago in the same way it has been awarded to China Three Gorges. As there was the need of an urgent decision, the government accepted the proposal of the Chinese firm and the MoU was signed,” said Energy Secretary Hariram Koirala.

The Energy Ministry today said it would apprise the Chinese firm of the decision taken by the House committee in its next letter.HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

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