West Seti Hydel to Start Soon

Friday, August 8, 2008

Originally published in Rising Nepal

The West Seti Hydro Ltd. (WSHL) which delayed its West Seti Hydroelectric Project, one of the single biggest infrastructure projects, Thursday said that it will commence the initial works of the project after this monsoon.

The green signal for initiating the project was given Wednesday after a dialogue between SMEC Development (P). Ltd., the project sponsor and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the WSHL officials said in a press meet here in the capital.

The project, which is going to be implemented in the Far Western Development Region, will generate 3,636 GWh of electricity per annum, 90 per cent of which will be delivered to Atamanda, India through a 230-km transmission line. The remaining 10 per cent 327 GWh will be provided free of charge to Nepal, particularly in the Far-Western Development Region.

WSHL said that the project worth US$1.6 billion had been due last year but was delayed because of continued political uncertainty in Nepal.

The works are being undertaken initially through an early funding package, which the ADB in association with other project parties, was planning to provide prior to the beginning of major construction activities.

The WSHL said that the government of Nepal funding through a loan via Public Sector Window of the ADB would hold a 15 per cent share and 14 per cent shares would be available for the Nepalese investors. Besides ADB, the partners include multinational stakeholders from Nepal, India, China and Australia.

Bill Bultitude, Managing Director of WSHL, said that the project was delayed due to the political uncertainty during the last year. He said that the cost of the project which was estimated to be US$ 1.2 billion last year had now reached US$ 1.6 billion.

He said that the project had undergone international and independent analysis and review. He informed that an updated summary on Environmental Impact Assessment including an environment management and resettlement plan was approved by the Government of Nepal and the ADB that estimates 1,579 households would be resettled from the various project sites and allocated land compensation packages.

The WSHL press statement claimed that the project would take five-and-a-half years period. The project would create more than 3,400 jobs. At least 200 permanent jobs would be created for the operation and maintenance of the power station and an extensive training programme would be provided for Nepalese workers, it said.

"Over the 25-year operating period, Nepal will receive more than US$2 billion in royalties, free energy, taxes and dividends after which time it will be handed over to the Government of Nepal," it said.

The dam which is to be constructed across the Seti River, 82 km upstream of its confluence with Karnali, includes a195-meter-high concrete faced rock-fill dam, a reservoir area of 2,060 hectares, storage capacity of 1,556 million square cubic meters, a 6.7 km head-race tunnel and a 620 meter tailrace tunnel.