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After GMR, Maoists oppose mega India-Nepal power project

By The Assam Tribune

KATHMANDU, June 6 (IANS) - After bringing to a halt work on a medium-sized hydropower project by Indian infrastructure company GMR's joint venture in Nepal, the Opposition Maoist party is now threatening a mega project signed between the governments of India and Nepal.

The Sapta Kosi Multipurpose Project, which is expected to generate 3,300 MW of hydropower as well as irrigate wide swathes of land in India' Bihar State and parts of Nepal, has been ordered to stop by the Maoists. The former guerrillas have condemned it as being "against the interests of Nepal, Nepalis and especially the tribal and indigenous people of the area".

"We will stop work on the detailed project report till the people approve of the project," the party was quoted as saying by its mouthpiece, the Janadisha daily, Sunday.

According to the daily, the project is also being opposed by several ethnic groups, including the Kirat Yakthung Chumlung and Kirat Rai Yayokkha.

On Saturday night, a team of local Maoist cadre, led by their central committee member Prahlad Budathoki, went to eastern Nepal, where an official team has begun work on the detailed project report (DPR), asking them to stop.

The official team is led by senior Indian engineer Rakesh Kashyap. Kashyap was handed a memorandum by the Maoist protesters, asking him to halt the work.

Nepal and India began talks in the early 1940s to develop the multipurpose project, which was envisioned to generate power, provide water for irrigation, control floods on the Kosi river, known as the 'Sorrow of Bihar', and create a waterway.

Though a team of experts from both countries was formed in 1991, nearly a decade since then, it has been able to hold only six meetings due to the political turmoil in Nepal.

A feasibility report by India's Central Water Commission in 1981 recommended building a 269-metre high dam, which is being opposed by environmentalists, who say it would be hazardous in an earthquake-prone land like Nepal.

The Maoists and ethnic communities are also opposing the dam, saying it will submerge dozens of Nepali villages, including those rich in religious and cultural relics.

A joint office was opened in Nepal's eastern Biratnagar town in 2004 to prepare the DPR, which was expected in 30 months. However, the report could not be completed due to the security situation in Nepal.

In March this year, Nepal informed India that the security agencies had been asked to help the work.

However, with the new threat, it remains to be seen if the survey can continue.

The Maoists have forced work on GMR's 250 MW Upper Marsyangdi hydropower project in northwest Nepal to stop since February.

Despite GMR authorities urging Nepal's Energy Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat for security, work on the halted project is yet to resume.

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After GMR, Maoists oppose mega India-Nepal power project

KATHMANDU, June 6 (IANS) - After bringing to a halt work on a medium-sized hydropower project by Indian infrastructure company GMR's joint venture in Nepal, the Opposition Maoist party is now threatening a mega project signed between the governments of India and Nepal.

The Sapta Kosi Multipurpose Project, which is expected to generate 3,300 MW of hydropower as well as irrigate wide swathes of land in India' Bihar State and parts of Nepal, has been ordered to stop by the Maoists. The former guerrillas have condemned it as being "against the interests of Nepal, Nepalis and especially the tribal and indigenous people of the area".

"We will stop work on the detailed project report till the people approve of the project," the party was quoted as saying by its mouthpiece, the Janadisha daily, Sunday.

According to the daily, the project is also being opposed by several ethnic groups, including the Kirat Yakthung Chumlung and Kirat Rai Yayokkha.

On Saturday night, a team of local Maoist cadre, led by their central committee member Prahlad Budathoki, went to eastern Nepal, where an official team has begun work on the detailed project report (DPR), asking them to stop.

The official team is led by senior Indian engineer Rakesh Kashyap. Kashyap was handed a memorandum by the Maoist protesters, asking him to halt the work.

Nepal and India began talks in the early 1940s to develop the multipurpose project, which was envisioned to generate power, provide water for irrigation, control floods on the Kosi river, known as the 'Sorrow of Bihar', and create a waterway.

Though a team of experts from both countries was formed in 1991, nearly a decade since then, it has been able to hold only six meetings due to the political turmoil in Nepal.

A feasibility report by India's Central Water Commission in 1981 recommended building a 269-metre high dam, which is being opposed by environmentalists, who say it would be hazardous in an earthquake-prone land like Nepal.

The Maoists and ethnic communities are also opposing the dam, saying it will submerge dozens of Nepali villages, including those rich in religious and cultural relics.

A joint office was opened in Nepal's eastern Biratnagar town in 2004 to prepare the DPR, which was expected in 30 months. However, the report could not be completed due to the security situation in Nepal.

In March this year, Nepal informed India that the security agencies had been asked to help the work.

However, with the new threat, it remains to be seen if the survey can continue.

The Maoists have forced work on GMR's 250 MW Upper Marsyangdi hydropower project in northwest Nepal to stop since February.

Despite GMR authorities urging Nepal's Energy Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat for security, work on the halted project is yet to resume.