CPN-M riled by govt decision over hydro projects
KATHMANDU: CPN-Maoist has expressed stern disagreement over the government’s decision to extend the survey licenses of Upper Karnali, Arun-3 and Upper Marshyangdi hydropower projects. “The government decision is contempt of the court as the Supreme Court is yet to give its final verdict on writ filed against the agreements of Upper Karnali and Arun- 3,” said CPN-Maoist issuing a press release on Thursday. The press release signed by Pampha Bhushal, the spokesperson of CPN-Maoist has also warned of protest is the government fails to revoke the decisions. CPN-Maoist has further urged all political parties and general people to assist in the protest. A meeting of the Investment Board on Tuesday had decided to extend the survey licenses of hydropower projects by six months.
Govt silent on security for major projects
KATHMANDU, Dec 20: The government´s more than half a dozen decisions related to three mega hydropower projects, Upper Karnali (900 MW), Upper Marsyangdi (600 MW) and Arun III (900 MW) are not significantly meaningful to ensure that the projects will be initiated on time, experts claimed. “The government has failed to address major issue of project security which the developers are long seeking to ensure project development on time,” Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, hydropower expert said.
The government on Tuesady decided to allow increase of capital from Rs 450 million to Rs 1.9 billion for GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Company Limited and Himtal Hydropower Company Limited — two subsidiaries of Indian infrastructure developer GMR entrusted to develop Upper Karnali and Upper Marsyangdi respectively and to extend their offices in New Delhi, India. Other decisions included allowing Sutlej Nepal to establish office in India and allow the company to bring another equity shareholder for the project development, extend the survey license of Upper Karnali for another six months, allowing GMR to start land acquisition verification in the project site of Upper Marsyangdi. Pradhan argued that the government´s decisions were purely procedural and did not guarantee the development of the projects.
“There is nothing to be happy from the government´s decisions on Tuesday,” he added. “Government´s decisions give a positive meaning but they are not landmark steps towards ensuring the project development in the country,” Krishna Prasad Dulal, another hydro expert and former board member of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) said. Dulal added that the Nepal Investment Board (NIB) itself is not heading in the right direction.
“The NIB had to show a strong gesture to send the message that the government was concerned about the security issues that the developers are raising time and again,” Dulal said. GMR, a leading Indian insfrastructure developer that is engaged in the two mega hydropower projects of Nepal, had formally written to the government seeking security in the project sites after the CPN-Maoist — a breakaway faction of ruling UCPN (Maoist) — decided to ´struggle´ against the Indian developers in Nepal.
“The government has skipped a major concern of the developers,” an official of the NEA said in condition of anonymity since speaking on those projects doesn´t fall under the jurisdiction of NEA. “At least, the government had to come up with some strategies such as taking locals into confidence and issuing share to the locals in order to protect projects from the anti-project forces,” the official opined. In the meantime, CPN-Maoist has said that the party is totally against the government´s decisions and will soon announce protest programs after completion of the party´s general convention in January.
“We are against the projects and will use all forces to protect people´s right and save national resources from Indian encroachment,” Pampha Bhusal, spokesperson of the CPN-Maiost told Republica over phone on Wednesday. Radesh Pant, chief executive officer (CEO) of the NIB said that the NIB board of directors meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai was silent on security issues of the project. “The meeting was more focused on administrative issues,” Pant said. NIB, a high level government entity to carry out the mega projects, is looking after the hydropower projects above 500 MW including Upper Karnali, Upper Marsyangdi, Arun III and West Seti (750 MW).
Trade union militancy hits Ncell
KATHMANDU: The All Nepal Federation of Revolutionary Trade Unions (ANFRTU) — a trade union affiliated to Mohan Baidya-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist — today damaged the Buddhanagar-based tower of Ncell. Blaming the telecom service provider of ignoring the union’s demand to reinstate ousted employees of Hello Mobile, a group today damaged the KAT 208-908 at Buddhanagar, near New Baneshwor. “The mobile connectivity of Ncell at Buddhanagar area was disrupted after our ‘action’,” claimed chairman of Nepal Printing Press and Publications’ Workers Organisation Janma Dev Jaisi, who also informed that the trade union wing will campaign against Hello Nepal in Dang too. “TeliaSonera — a Sweden based telecom giant — has invested in both Ncell and Hello Mobile of Nepal,” he added.
Trade union militancy coupled with intra-party rift in the Maoist has hurt not only the private telecom service provider but also subscribers. The company has not yet calculated the loss and the number of subscribers affected. “Vandalism is a police case,” said corporate communications manager at Ncell Sanju Koirala. “ANFRTU has started a campaign to destroy physical infrastructure from Buddhanagar and it will be expanded across the country if our demands are not fulfilled,” Jaisi said, warning the company not to carry out repair work until the issue is settled. Writing to the concerned companies on Sunday, the labour organisation has asked all companies working for Ncell and Hello Nepal to remove their employees from the field.
This is not the first instance of the inefficiency of the caretaker government led by Dr Baburam Bhattarai in providing security to the private sector that has been losing confidence in the country, though Bhattarai repeatedly claims of boosting the private sector’s confidence to invest in the country. Claiming that their friends were forcefully terminated by Nepal Satellite Telecom — Hello Nepal — the union had given a seven-day ultimatum to reinstate them in the first week of December. However, Nepal Satellite Telecom said that the workers had left on their own will after a golden handshake.