GSI team to survey in Nepal for Sapta Kosi project

June 9th, 2010 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 9 (IANS) A three-member team from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) will arrive in Nepal Saturday to begin a survey amidst tight security for the controversial Sapta Kosi multipurpose project that is expected to generate 3,300 MW of power.
The experts, who were earlier scheduled to arrive Wednesday, had to reschedule the visit after the ongoing field inspection work was threatened by Nepal’s opposition Maoist party and local organisations.

The geologists will conduct a nearly two-week long survey in eastern Nepal which will also indicate if it is feasible to build a high dam in the area.

Nepal’s energy ministry pledged to beef up security and not allow protesters to disrupt the work.

On Saturday night, a team of local Maoist cadres, led by their central committee member Prahlad Budathoki, went to eastern Nepal, where a team from the Joint Project Office, including officials from India and Nepal, had begun work on the detailed project report (DPR), asking them to stop.

The former rebels said work on the mega power project, which would also irrigate parts of Bihar and eastern Nepal as well as create a waterway, should not start till Nepal was restructured into a federal republic when the concerned states should oversee the project.

Though India and Nepal began talks in the early 1940s to develop the multipurpose project and a joint team of experts 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.

Protesters in Nepal 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.

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