Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Sunday visited the Tehri dam in Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, igniting new hope for the construction of the mega 6,600 megawatt (Mw) Pancheshwar multi-purpose hydel project on river Kali, a joint venture between New Delhi and Kathmandu.
A day after holding talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at New Delhi, Oli flew to Tehri region this morning and visited the dam site. Oli was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal and his Cabinet colleagues.
Oli told the top Indian officials that Nepal was keen to develop Pancheshwar dam. He was briefed about the rehabilitation and other technical aspects related to the dam by senior officials of the THDC India Ltd.
"The Nepalese premier tried to find out how the Indian government carried out the tough rehabilitation process related to Tehri dam," said K D P Dubey, spokesman, THDC.
The Uttarakhand government in 2012 had given its approval to the proposed project, following a meeting of the state Cabinet. Uttarakhand will get 13 percent of free power from the project.
Nearly a decade ago, the Centre had decided to set up the Pancheswar Development Authority for the implementation of the multi-purpose project. Since then, no significant progress was made. In 2008, the then Nepalese Prime Minister Pushp Kamal Dahal Prachand had also visited the Tehri dam site.
The Uttarakhand Cabinet's approval for the Pancheshwar dam had come at a time when a need was being felt to increase the hydropower potential in the state after the suspension of scores of hydroelectric projects on the Ganga and its tributaries.
The Pancheshwar dam is being proposed on Kali river which divides Nepal and India at Pithoragarh and Champawat districts. The project is being proposed in two parts - 5,600 Mw Pacheshwar dam and 1,060 Mw Purnagiri re-regulating irrigation project.
A vast submergence area comprising 76 sq km is falling toward the India side. A total of 61 villages will be submerged in the reservoir, said a government official, privy to the development.
Chief Minister Harish Rawat had also asked the Centre to prepare a separate Pancheshwar dam rehabilitation policy also.