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Indian hydro investors face fresh uncertainty in Nepal

Kathmandu, Sep 26, 2010 (Calcutta Tube) Even before a smear campaign targeting Dabur India‘s joint venture in Nepal could die down, it is the turn of more than a dozen Indian investors in the thorny hydropower industry to face fresh unease with the opposition Maoist party once again training its sights on them.

The former guerrillas, who are floundering to form a new government, have begun a fresh campaign asking the caretaker government of Prime MInister Madhav Kumar Nepal to review all deals made with foreign investors for hydel projects, that can generate over 100 MW of power, for the sake of ‘national interests’.

The hydropower and energy department of the party is now calling for 14 hydropower deals to be tabled in parliament for fresh approval. Thirteen of them have been already assigned to Indian companies.

These include the 300 MW Upper Karnali project that was assigned to a consortium of GMR Energy Ltd of India, GMR Infrastructure and Italian-Thai Development Project, which is expected to be completed by 2016, the 402 MW Arun III awarded to India’s state-owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, the 454 MW Chainpur Seti given to Jindal Power and the 184 MW Upper Karnali St-1 contracted to Shimla-based Everest Power.

Some of these companies had been issued licences during the short-lived government led by the Maoists themselves.

However, the Maoists are now alleging that the then energy minister Bishnu Poudel, who belongs to the prime minister’s communist party, indulged in irregularities.

They are also asking for all work on the 1996 Mahakali Treaty signed between the governments of India and Nepal to be halted and the treaty reviewed.

According to the former rebels, local and Nepali investors should be encouraged to develop Nepal’s hydropower projects and Nepalis should be trained to run them.

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