India’s GMR runs into fresh trouble in Nepal

April 28th, 2009 - 3:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, April 28 (IANS) The GMR Group, one of India’s premier infrastructure developers, has run into fresh trouble in Nepal, where it is building a 300-MW hydro power project.
From Sunday, villagers in western Nepal’s remote Dailekh and Accham districts have forced GMR to halt the work on the 300-MW Upper Karnali project, saying the Indian company failed to meet some of their demands, Nepal’s official media reported Tuesday.

The villagers are demanding the construction of a bridge and a telephone tower in the underdeveloped region. They are also seeking jobs for locals and compensation for the community forests that would be destroyed to make way for the project.

Both the government and GMR failed to meet the villagers’ demand within the given deadline of mid-April, Bom Bahadur B.C., a resident of Dailekh village and the leader of a local struggle committee that is opposing the project, told the official media.

In January 2008, GMR became the first Indian company to gain a foothold in Nepal’s thorny hydropower sector when it pipped nearly a dozen rival bidders, most of them Indians, to win the contract to develop the Upper Karnali project.

However, since the triumphant entry, GMR has faced several hurdles in executing the project.

In February this year, the locals had obstructed the work at the site, raising some demands.

In March 2008, two individuals moved court against the awarding of the contract on the ground that hydropower being a matter of national interest, the interim government should have taken the approval of parliament first.

Though Nepal’s Supreme Court refused to stay the work of the project, the Indian company still faces severe opposition of the locals.

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