Government agencies clash: Department of Road’s hurdles derail key electricity infrastructure project

Government agencies clash: Department of Road's hurdles derail key electricity infrastructure project

KATHMANDU: Kulman Ghising, the Executive Director of Nepal Electricity Authority, has criticized the Department of Road for the delay in approving the underground installation of power lines in the Kathmandu Valley.

Ghising stated that the project to construct the underground power distribution system (cables) has become futile due to the lack of coordination among government agencies. He highlighted the unfortunate situation where significant and essential projects are stalled due to the absence of coordination between government bodies.

Following the denial of permission by the Department of Road to dig roads for the installation of underground power lines, the scheduled work for the project has been halted since the month of Asar.

In a program held in Lalitpur on Wednesday to inaugurate smart street lights implemented in collaboration with Lalitpur Metropolitan City and the Authority, Ghising expressed his disappointment, stating that construction entrepreneurs have left the construction sites for underground cable work.

Representatives of municipalities undergoing project implementation coordination with the Department of Road emphasized the need for better coordination. Ghising stated that despite receiving permission from local municipalities to work on road sections under their jurisdiction, the Road Department has not allowed the project to proceed.

“When we bury cables underground (overhead), the cost becomes ten times higher. There are many challenges involved in burying cables underground, which makes the project more complicated. Even though it may take some time with coordination, it is better than not getting permission from the road, and even after the permission is granted, we still do not have permission in various places,” he mentioned.

“In the absence of coordination, major and significant projects end up in a stalled state. This is unfortunate. I feel the pain too. In the forest, we cannot build transmission lines; the forest is a sovereign state. On the road, the road is the sovereign state. So, where should we work? We are all responsible when such situations arise. We must all work together to solve the problem responsibly,” Ghising added.

In the initial phase of development, the Authority commenced work on the underground power distribution system in the Ratnapark and Maharajgunj distribution centers of Kathmandu.

In the second phase, work started in other areas of Kathmandu district, in the third phase, it covered Lalitpur and Bhaktapur metropolitan areas, and in the fourth phase, it included Pokhara and Bharatpur metropolitan areas.

Under this project, 33 and 11 kV underground lines, along with 400 kV optical fiber, are being constructed in various regions. This infrastructure will enhance the reliability of electricity, telephone, and internet services, beautifying the urban landscape. Ghising expressed optimism about development and mentioned that though it might be challenging for the general public, they would soon reap the benefits.

The Department of Road had demanded a 50% fee for road damage when the project to bury power lines was initiated. Previously, with a 20% fee, the department used to refund the amount when the road maintenance work was completed.

Ghising stated that the proposal to increase the fee to 50% had been received from the Department of Road for the ongoing agreement negotiations.

“The government has not allocated a budget for us, and we don’t have it ourselves. In the past years, we used to keep 20% for such work, and now, considering the ongoing trend, we have proposed to increase it to 50%. We must follow the old arrangement and come to an agreement,” said Ghising. “If the situation becomes more challenging, the contractors, municipalities, and we, ourselves, will suffer without agreement. We are ready to work, but without agreement, we cannot perform our duties,” he added.

Fiscal Nepal |
Friday December 1, 2023, 01:31:58 PM |

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