September 21: Minister for Forests and Environment Birendra Mahato has directed authorities concerned to allow interested parties to study the prospects of hydropower projects in the national park and wildlife conservation areas. During a meeting with the officials of the Independent Power Producers Association, Nepal (IPPAN) at the ministry on Wednesday, Minister Mahato instructed the secretary of the ministry to givethe go ahead for study to the projects in the protected area.
IPPAN President Ganesh Karki said that it is not possible to build a hydroelectric projects in the Terai while most of the areas in the hill and mountainous districts have restrictions in the name of protected areas. In this context, they hydropower potential of the country will go wasted, argued Karki.
"We are also aware of protecting the environment and wildlife. However, after the Ministry of Energy issued permission to develop the project, another body of the government did not give permission for the study,'' President Karki said, adding, “The extent of the impact on the wildlife and the environment can be found only through the environmental study. It does not seem logical to say that it will have an impact on the environment without studying it.”
The government is preparing to publish the 'Energy Development Roadmap and Action Plan 2023-2035' with the goal of generating 28,500 megawatts of electricity within 12 years with the slogan of bringing prosperity through energy. The roadmap mentions that 15,000 MW of electricity will be exported and 13,468 MW of electricity will be consumed internally.
IPPAN also informed Minister Mahato about the decision of the Supreme Court in favor of the projects in the conservation areas.
In Section 33 of the 'National Parks and Wildlife Protection Act 2029', the Government of Nepal can give approval for infrastructure development by making necessary regulations. Based on this basic law, the Supreme Court has ordered to pave the way for the construction of projects including hydropower, tourism and other development projects in the coming days. After the order, the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Department is drafting the regulations and collecting opinions and suggestions from the stakeholders.
In the current situation, 12,000 megawatts of electricity cannot be produced in 12 years because of forests. IPPAN stressed that the Ministry of Forests and Environment and its subordinate agencies should be friendly towards energy development.
At present, Nepal's total installed capacity of electricity has reached about 3,000 megawatts. The private sector alone has produced about 2,000 megawatts. The private sector has been looking for market since four years but the Electricity Act 2049 is causing problem. Karki, the president of IPPAN, said that as soon as the amendment to the Electricity Act, which has been tabled in the Parliament, is passed, the private sector will be able to trade electricity.