Sunday, April 11, 2010

Maoists cast shadow over Pancheshwar dam Project

April 12, 2010 09:41 IST

Maoist insurgency in Nepal has begun to cast its shadow over the proposed multi-purpose 6,000 Mw Pancheswhar hydropower project on river Mahakali along the Indo-Nepal border.

Nepalese Maoist leaders led by Ishwari Bhattarai are now up in arms against the Pancheshwar dam claiming the proposed dam was not in the interest of people of the landlocked nation. Bhattarai has also threatened to commit suicide over the issue. A series of public rallies are being organised against the dam in Nepal.

"We have heard about the growing opposition against Pancheshwar dam in Nepal," said IG Kumaon region in Uttarakhand [ Images ] J C Pandey. However, Pandey claimed that Uttarakhand had so far by and large remained unaffected by the Maoists activities in Nepal.

But experts here said the opposition by Maoists leaders in Nepal might not auger well for the Pancheshwar dam which was already mired in various controversies including the rehabilitation problem.

After a considerable delay, New Delhi [ Images ] now wants to speed up the process of the dam as no significant progress could be made during the last few years due to heightened Maoist activities. The project is being jointly developed by Nepal and India [ Images ] at an estimated investment of Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) on 50-50 joint equity basis.

Last year, a Panchewshwar development authority comprising top officials from both Nepal and India was mooted to expedite matters related to the project as well as its DPR. The project is proposed on the basis of the 1996 Mahakali Treaty.

The project having 12 units of 540 Mw each, would uproot hundreds of people from Pithoragarh and Champawat districts and submerge a large area in the region.

Besides, a huge reservoir is being planned for the Pancheshwar dam in which over 100 villages would be submerged completely. But sources here said as compared to the potential of the dam, the number of people being uprooted would be far less.

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