India will be taking over an ambitious hydropower project in Nepal West Seti power project nearly four years after China withdrew from it.
Key Details about West Seti Power Project
- India’s National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) has already begun preliminary engagement of the site in far-western Nepal following Indian Prime Minister visit to Lumbini.
- India was Nepal’s power market and it had a policy of not buying power from China-executed projects, West Seti would be given to India.
Back to basics
India -Nepal power relations
- Nepal is rich in power sources with around 6,000 rivers and an estimated potential for 83,000 MW.
- India has formally approached Nepal on many occasions, seeking preferential rights over Nepali waters should it match offers coming from elsewhere.
- India is viewed as a feasible market for Nepal, but there has been some uncertainty in Nepal over India’s inability to deliver projects on time.
- India has undertaken to harness or expressed intent to harness major rivers in the north.
- An ambitious Mahakali treaty was signed back in 1996, to produce 6,480 MW, but India has still not been able to come out with the Detailed project Report.
- The Upper Karnali project, for which the multinational GMR signed the contract, has not made any headway for years.
- What has helped build faith recently is India’s success in executing the 900-MW Arun Three project in eastern Nepal’s Sankhuwa Sabha, which is being executed by India’s Sutlej Vidhyut Nigam under a BOOT scheme, and whose foundation was laid in 2018 and which is set for completion by 2023.
- Nepal’s Constitution has a provision under which any treaty or agreement with another country on natural resources will require Parliament’s ratification by at least a two-thirds majority. That will also mean homework will be required before any hydro project is signed and given for execution.
- Nepal has a massive power shortfall as it generates only around 900 MW against an installed capacity of nearly 2,000 MW. Although it is currently selling 364 MW power to India, it has over the years importing from India.
- Once the projects are made multi-purpose — with flood control, navigation, fisheries, irrigation contributing to agricultural growth etc, giving due value to water — the cost of power will be much lower compared to existing rates, and people on both sides will have multiple benefits.
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