Works on the construction of power transmission line of the Kaligandaki hydropower project have been affected as the national pride project awaits orders to cut down trees for the purpose.
The project is waiting for a green signal to cut trees along the alignment of the 220 kVA transmission line from Dana of Myagdi to Khurkot of Parbat. As a result, the construction of 30 pylons on the Dana-Khurkot transmission line has been stalled.
Although the Council of Ministers had made a decision on December 28, 2017 to allow cutting down 4,208 trees along the Kaligandaki Transmission Line Corridor, the decision has not been implemented. The government had also decided to provide 2.58 hectares of land to the project for the construction of the 30 power pylons.
Project chief Chandan Kumar Ghosh said the work of constructing the power pylons and connecting cables has been stalled as the decision of the Council of Ministers has remained unimplemented for a year. The project has not been able to enter the forest area as it is not authorised to cut down trees for moving ahead with the construction works.
Regarding the issue, the Division Forestry Office Myagdi said that the order to cut down trees has been halted as the project has not paid any heed to implementing the agreement it reached with the Department of Forests whereby the project would have to provide an equal measure of land that it would occupy in the forest area.
As per the agreement, there is also an alternative of making cash payment equivalent to the cost of the land that is needed to be acquired including the cost required for planting and taking care of the tree saplings if the project cannot provide the land.
However, Ghosh said that they have not found appropriate land to be made available to the District Forestry Office and were ready to pay cash if the office gave them the figure of land valuation.
Nepal Electricity Authority is constructing a sub-station each at Dana and Khurkot, and the 39-kilometre transmission line to feed the electricity to be generated from the project. The project is under construction in the northern belt of Myagdi and in Mustang. Eleven community forests are affected by the project in Myagdi.
It is stated that 477 large trees and 981 small trees need to be cut down for the transmission line in Myagdi.
So far 81 out of the total 114 towers of the project have been constructed. Sub-stations are also under construction at Dana of Annapurna rural municipality-3 and at Khurkot of Kushma municipality-1 in Parbat. Power cables have already been installed at places where the towers have been constructed.
The contract agreement had been reached between Tata Projects and Chint Electric JV in 2016 for the construction of the sub-station and the transmission line from Dana to Khurkot. The project cost is Rs 2.90 billion and it is being constructed with cooperation of the Asian Development Bank.
The term of the project contract has been extended by six months. It was set to be completed in November. More than 70 per cent of the project’s works has been completed, project chief Ghosh said.