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WB is likely to scrap solar project

By Our Reporter 

Nepal is likely to lose 37 million dollar solar plant project funded by the World Bank due to corrupt officials at the Nepal Electricity Authority and a decision of the parliamentary committee to instruct the NEA to scrap the deal with contractor.

The project which should have implemented 18 months back has not been implemented yet when the NEA delayed to award the contract. When the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts smelt rat in awarding t the contract and investigated into the matter only to find faulty procurement process.

The World Bank in February 2015 had agreed to provide $130 million to build solar stations to the government to supply electricity in the Kathmandu Valley and reduce electricity leakage. Out of that amount, $37 million was earmarked for installation of solar plants at Devighat and Trishuli of Nuwakot district.

Although solar plants’ installation was supposed to be completed within a year of signing the aid agreement, NEA took around two years to award the contract, as the entire contractor selection process was dragged into controversy.

Previous NEA managing director Mukesh Raj Kafle had unilaterally decided to hire a Chinese company to build the project. After the Chinese contractor was deemed “technically unqualified”, new NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising decided to hand over the project to Raijin Energy.

Kafle had granted the contract to the ‘unqualified’ contractor with a hope of receiving more commission. But his greed is likely to cause the withdrawal of the project which will be key to address the problem of power outage if implemeted.

But Ghising was barred from hiring Raijin, as a complaint was lodged at the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts stating the construction cost of Rs.3.7 billion proposed by Raijin was Rs. 680 million more than the cost proposed by the contractor favoured by Kafle.

NEA Chief Ghising said the project is likely to be abandoned as the World Bank is highly unsatisfied with the time overrun. “Now, the project will go ahead only if the government decides to build the project on its own,” said Ghising.

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