Finally, a parliamentary committee has given the go-ahead to construct West Seti Hydropower Project, ending weeks of confusions surrounding the fate of the country’s biggest reservoir hydro project. A sub-committee, formed under the Committee on Natural Resources and Means, pointed out some procedural errors in the bilateral deal signed between the Ministry of Energy and China’s Three Georges Company to construct the project but expressed its commitment not to create any obstacle to its implementation. This has rekindled the hope of the people that 750 megawatt West Seti will be built within set timeframe and be able to solve the perpetual energy crisis facing the nation for decades. There was a deep-seated fear whether the West Seti could also become the victim of ‘power politics’ that aborted some big electricity projects in the past. However, the judicious approach of the sub-committee cleared the deck and set the stage to implement the mega project at the initiatives of the government.
According to the sub-committee report, the Energy Ministry skipped a legal provision that a power project above 500 megawatt should be undertaken through Investment Board. The report insisted that the ministry also failed to seek approval from the Ministry of Finance while taking loans and aids from the foreign company for the construction of the hydro power plants. It argued that two or three Chinese companies vied for the project but the government picked up the Three Georges without consulting the other two. Due process and transparency are certainly inherent administrative elements to execute the development projects smoothly and effectively. May be these aspects could have been overlooked when the government struck deal with the said Chinese company to construct the West Seti. However, the most important thing is the intention and objective. The ministry has time and again clarified that it has no any ill-intention behind the historic power agreement.
The fact is that it has amended the existing law that paves the way for the government to build big power project on its own after years of tiresome waiting for the foreign investors to pour in their money in the sector. The West Seti has a long history. The government was compelled to scrap an accord with an Australian company that could not pool the required resources to build it even after holding its license for 17 years.
If the Chinese Company had taken its hand out of West Seti, this would have sent a negative message to the foreign investors. But, with the positive stance of parliamentary committee, a favourable atmosphere was created for the timely execution of the much-needed project. The patience shown by the government and the Chinese Company in this regard is praiseworthy as they were not wavered by the temporary glitches facing the project. Now it is time for all concerned agencies to work in urgency so that the West Seti project is accomplished in time so that it will contribute to facilitate the country’s industrialization process and get rid the people of annoying load-shedding.