A Guide to Dam Sanctioning in Nepal

Bharat Lal Seth
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

(Update: December 6, 2019

The laws in Nepal have changed. The guide on this page is no longer current. It is here for historic reference.)

Hydropower for some decades has been considered the ultimate engine that can help generate large-scale economic benefits in Nepal. Though the highland nation has an immense water resource endowment and hydropower potential in proportion to its population, there remains an acute and growing power shortage in the country. Having said that, there are social and environmental safeguards that need to be established so that energy is generated sustainably and the benefits accrued equitably.

This guide–Dam Sanctioning in Nepal–outlines the role of government institutions in the expansion of hydropower capacity. The multitude of agencies, the legal instruments that guide and affect dam projects, and the musts for licensing and agreement processes have been outlined, including procedures for project scoping, screening and review. The report also captures how environmental impact assessments are being prepared and the farcical nature of public participation in the country, stressing on the need for better independent scrutiny.

Similar in form to a guide published by International Rivers in 2013, Dam Planning under the Spotlight: A Guide to Dam Sanctioning in India, this guide sheds light on the bureaucratic framework in Nepal, and seeks to inform civil society and industry about the existing policy and legislations governing the hydropower sector.

Most urban and rural habitations in Nepal face immense power shortages, resulting in several hours of load shedding each day. Yet most projects are being proposed for the export of electricity to India. This guide calls for a sovereign approach to energy and water resources planning with the aim to first and foremost meet the country’s domestic demand. 

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