KATHMANDU: Indian industrialist Gautam Adani’s Adani Group, which ranks second in the list of the world’s richest people (Forbes Magazine), has shown interest in investing in Nepal’s hydropower and electricity infrastructure. Adani Group has proposed to invest in large hydropower projects, cross boarder transmission lines and internal transmission lines in Nepal.
After Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba returned from his visit to India, last year, Indian companies are rapidly taking up large hydropower projects in Nepal. Adani Group was also seen in this race.
Pampha Bhusal, ministry for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, said, representatives of Adani Group have come to Kathmandu three times since April. They have met the high officials of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers’ Office, Investment Board Nepal, National Planning Commission, Ministry of Energy and Nepal Electricity Authority and proposed for investment.
“Mainly their focus is on Karnali Basin projects,” said minister Bhusal, “In the first phase, Adani Group wants to invest in projects of at least 1,000 to 2,000 megawatts hydropower projects in Nepal.”
Adani Group has a special interest in the 10,000 MW Karnali Chisapani project. However, Nepali officials have suggested investing in Karnali watershed projects.
“Before embarking on a big project, we have given an opinion that we can invest in projects like the 480 MW Fukot Karnali Hydroelectric Project, 440 MW Tila-1 and 420 MW Tila-2”, says an official of the Ministry of Energy, “However, Adani Group has not reached a conclusion on this matter.”
Tila-1 and Tila-2 are projects ‘held’ by the Chinese company, while Fukot is in the hands of Karnali government’s hydropower development company. Officials of the Ministry of Energy have also called Mugu Karnali and other projects feasible.
Adani Group has also shown interest in building an international transmission line to connect with India. Officials of the Ministry of Energy say that Adani Group has started an internal study about the commercial potential of such transmission lines.
Adani Group is also eager to invest in transmission lines of 400 and 600 KV and more capacity to be built within Nepal. However, the government has not made a clear policy regarding private sector investment in transmission line infrastructure.
Adani Group is a company that has gained experience by investing in power generation and transmission line infrastructure in India. According to government officials, if such a company can be invested in Nepal, it will send a positive message to the world about the potential of energy production and market.
“If a person standing in line to become the richest person in the world comes to Nepal with investments, why not we facilitate?” says Bhusal, “Looking at the national interest, such investments should be welcomed in a commercial manner, it will also attract investors from other countries.”
Adani Group announced on July 26 that they will invest $70 billion in green energy. It is assumed that Adani Group came to Nepal based on that.
After Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s visit to India last year, Adani Group came to discuss investment in Nepal. During Deuba’s visit to India, a 6-point document named ‘Joint Approach Paper on Energy Cooperation’ was signed.
That ‘vision paper’ includes developing hydropower projects with joint investment in Nepal, building more international transmission lines, cooperating in the operation of national transmission lines, providing easy access to the energy markets of both countries, taking initiatives to increase the investment of the Indian private sector in Nepal’s hydropower sector, etc.
Under the guise of this document, Indian companies are coming in to invest in Nepal’s big projects. Indian companies that have occupied the project have also got time to raise investment.
Based on the same vision paper, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Nepal Electricity Authority and India’s Sutlej Hydropower Corporation on May to construct the Arun-4 Hydroelectric Project of 679 MW.
In the presence of Prime Minister Deuba and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Executive Director of Nepal Electricity Authority Kulman Ghising and Chairman and Managing Director of Sutlej Nandalal Sharma signed the memorandum of understanding in Lumbini.
Similarly, on August 2, an agreement was signed with the Indian company NHPC India Limited for the survey of the West Seti Hydroelectric Project of 750 MW and the Seti-6 Hydroelectric Project of 669 MW. All the decisions to give two projects to NHPC were led by the investment board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Deuba.