How Nepal’s political parties and bureaucrats turn big development projects into the geese that lay the golden eggs

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Kathmandu, successful the 1980s, was a increasing city. As its colonisation started to increase, a batch of problems arose. One of them was the deficiency of cleanable drinking water.

To curb the problem, a task was envisioned successful the 1980s. The task aimed astatine bringing h2o from the Melamchi successful Sindhupalchok to Kathmandu. The task was inaugurated successful 1998 with the archetypal signifier to beryllium completed a decennary later. But, thing went arsenic planned arsenic the task lone took disconnected decently successful 2007. Even though Melamchi’s h2o has started to travel to Kathmandu aft 23 years, the task is yet to beryllium afloat completed.

This is conscionable 1 illustration of a nationalist pridefulness task being kept successful limbo. Almost nary of the nationalist pridefulness projects are completed connected time. A crushed for the hold has been governmental enactment and bureaucracy that consciousness putting projects successful limbo helps them gain more. The governmental enactment does not privation to instrumentality ownership portion the bureaucrats make a bubble wherever everything goes successful the loop. This has wasted some clip and taxpayers’ wealth preventing radical from benefitting from these pridefulness projects.

Here is simply a database of 12 pridefulness projects which were and are successful limbo and the reasons down it.

1. Sikta Irrigation Project

Sikta Irrigation Project Source: Kalika Construction

It has been 45 years since the pre-feasibility survey connected the Sikta Irrigation Project was done. As of April, lone 65 per cent of the task has been completed. Even though preparations for the projects were done good beforehand, the governments ne'er acceptable speech the fund to transportation retired the project. The government, however, successful 2005, decided that it would put its ain funds and workforce to transportation retired the project. The task past started successful 2007.

The crushed that the task has not been completed successful time, according to task insiders, is the deficiency of funds allotted to the project.

Ironically, this is the aforesaid task wherever the embezzlement of Rs 2.13 cardinal led to a lawsuit being filed against erstwhile curate Bikram Pandey and 21 others. The lawsuit is inactive being heard astatine the Special Court wherever 4 erstwhile chiefs of the projects person been accused of corruption.

The contractor for construction, CTC Kalika Joint Venture Pvt Ltd, is besides nether probe for undertaking below-par works for the project. Pandey is besides the proprietor of the operation company. 

The task present is not moving guardant arsenic it lacks a skilled workforce that includes surveyors and enumerators.

According to the 57th yearly study of the Office of the Auditor General, determination are superior problems with the occidental portion of the canal. But, the contractors person already taken wealth to conception the canal connected the occidental side. The canal adjacent the Changai Nala country is successful dire request of repair, but arsenic of April 2021, nary effort has been enactment guardant to repair it.

The project’s outgo has accrued to Rs 25.2 cardinal successful 2021 from Rs 12.8 cardinal initially. 

2. Babai Irrigation Project

The International Development Association (IDA), a assemblage of the World Bank, did a pre-feasibility survey successful 1975, aft which the irrigation task took shape. Like the Sikta Irrigation Project, Babai Irrigation Project is besides 45 years old, but lone 51 per cent of the enactment has been completed arsenic of April 2021.

The feasibility survey for the task was done with the assistance of the UNDP successful 1977 and 1980. In 1981, a plan was made with the assistance of the IDA, aft which a 5.5-kilometre agelong canal was constructed wherever h2o had started to travel successful 1994.

According to a study prepared by the National Planning Commission, the canal should person h2o for 7 months a year. The remainder of the twelvemonth (five months) has been kept for canal repair and construction. This, the radical progressive successful the task person said, is 1 of the reasons that the task has not been completed connected time.

But, determination are different problems arsenic well, including those regarding the acquisition of onshore owed to societal and ineligible constructs. The task country falls nether the Bardiyaa National Park. This has made things hard specified arsenic bringing successful machinery and resources to conception the canal. The deficiency of resources to conception the canal is besides creating a problem, accidental officials.

The outgo of the task which was Rs 2.87 cardinal successful 1975 has present gone up 9 times and reached Rs 18.96 billion. 

3. Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project

The Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project is 100 years old. The project, which was the brainchild of a section Tharu husbandman is the Karnali province’s largest irrigation system. The efforts to marque the irrigation strategy modern is, however, going astatine a snail’s pace.

The task aims to irrigate implicit 38,000 hectares of land, which the authorities lone started to see successful its fund from the fiscal twelvemonth 2010/11. It is simply a crushed lone 48 per cent of the enactment has been completed. 

The task main Kedar Kumar Shrestha says the root of the canal falls successful an unregistered arable onshore wherever radical person been living. This has made it hard to get the onshore for the project. Almost each onshore needed for the task is unregistered and arable, says Shrestha, who adds that astir of the onshore has been encroached upon by locals.

The locals of Chisapani and Lamki, according to Shrestha, are the ones who are encroaching connected the unregistered and arable onshore needed for the project. The task has already handed retired compensation. But, successful Lamki, the task was affected for a portion arsenic it needed to chopped trees successful the nationalist wood area.

The task besides faces problems related to debased bidding. Shrestha says that close present determination are 5 contracts acceptable speech for overseas companies and 27 contracts for Nepali companies. Almost each of the contractors person bid little than they were expected to and person received the contracts. 

“The Public Procurement Act forces america to springiness the declaration to the lowest bidder,” says Shrestha. “If we springiness it to the highest one, radical volition accidental we took a hefty commission.”

Like the abovementioned projects, the fund of the task has besides accrued twofold to Rs 27.7 cardinal from Rs 12.37 billion.

4. Mahakali Irrigation Project

The task that started successful 1981 is presently successful its 3rd signifier which started successful 2006. The task aimed to irrigate implicit 33,500 hectares of onshore successful the Kailali and Kanchanpur districts. But, lone 39 per cent of the enactment successful the task has been done truthful far. The estimated outgo of the task is Rs 34 billion.

According to the National Planning Commission, the main occupation with the task is the hold owed to compensation issues. Like the Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project, astir of the onshore needed is successful unregistered arable land. Nepal’s instrumentality says that the authorities volition not supply compensation to radical surviving connected the land. But, locals accidental they person been surviving determination for generations, hence they request to beryllium compensated if the authorities wants to usage it for the nationalist pridefulness project.

The Council of Ministers is yet to travel up with a determination arsenic to what to bash successful specified cases. Until it tin instrumentality a stand, the completion of this task is successful superior doubt.

The bittersweet authorities of the task tin beryllium seen successful 1 example. The project, which had promised to works 10 trees for each histrion it cuts down, is uncovering it hard to acquisition onshore to bash so. Apart from that, the deficiency of quality assets and unplanned stream extraction is besides causing problems to implicit the task connected time.

5. Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project

While doing the feasibility survey of the Babai Irrigation Project by the UNDP successful 1977, plans were besides made astir a diversion task successful the area. That program materialised with JICA successful 1992 portion studying the multi-dimensional usage of h2o resources successful the Karnali and Mahakali stream basins arsenic the officials felt that it could hap and enactment the diversion task successful priority.

In 1998, JICA conducted a feasibility study, and successful 2008, the task was fixed a greenish airy by the Department of Irrigation. Since then, lone 40 per cent of the task has been completed. Even though the task had received wide appreciation for completing the 12.2 kilometres successful a abbreviated time, small advancement has been made since then.

Like successful different projects, the readying committee has said that the hold is owed to trouble successful acquiring onshore owned by radical and wood committees. The task besides needs to chopped down trees, but it is not being capable to coordinate with authorities agencies.

The Council of Ministers had fixed the task support to usage the 5.42-hectare wood country to conception headworks, entree tunnels and different infrastructures. But, for that to happen, it needs to chopped down 1,023 trees, which it tin lone bash upon receiving support from the Forest Ministry. 

The lone happening that is implicit is the 12.2-km agelong tunnel. But, the operation of a powerhouse for the 46.8 MW hydropower task is being done astatine a comparatively dilatory pace. The archetypal estimation for the task was enactment astatine Rs 16.43 billion, but present owed to the gait of the task has gone up to Rs 33.19 billion.

6. Budhigandaki Hydropower Project

The day for the operation of the proposed 1,299 MW hydropower task is yet to beryllium finalised. The authorities has fixed Chinese institution Gezhouba Water Group the work to grip the project.

Even though the program to conception a hydropower task was made successful 1989, the authorities has lone started to acceptable speech a fund since the fiscal twelvemonth 2012/13. Since then, the task has handed retired compensations to locals of Gorkha and Dhaging whose onshore volition beryllium submerged underwater. As of April 2021, a full of Rs 33.6 cardinal has been handed retired arsenic compensation. A full of 3,000-hectare onshore needs to beryllium acquired for the project.

The readying committee says that adjacent though determination is simply a budget, the authorities has not been capable to manus retired compensation due to the fact that the compensation complaint is yet to beryllium determined. Relocating the radical from the task tract and problems arising owed to the valuation of onshore during compensation has been cited arsenic reasons for the deficiency of advancement connected the project. The authorities is besides unaware of however to physique specified a large task and wherever it tin negociate Rs 260 cardinal it needs to implicit the project.

7. West Seti Hydropower Project

The West Seti Hydropower Project was envisioned by 1980 arsenic a run-of-the-river hydropower task which would nutrient 37MW electricity. The institution that visioned the project, Sograha Consultant, did different survey successful 1987 erstwhile it recovered a mode to summation the capableness of the task to 360 MW by adding a reservoir. The biology appraisal survey of the task had been done successful 2000, but since then, the authorities has been signing contracts with assorted companies cancelling it aboriginal on.

The full estimated outgo of the task is Rs 273.85 cardinal arsenic it aims to present nutrient 1,200 MW of electricity. No enactment has been done connected the task nor has a day been acceptable for its commencement adjacent though the authorities has been mounting speech a fund for the task since the fiscal twelvemonth 2011/12.

8. Pokhara Regional International Airport

File: Construction works statesman for the Pokhara International Airport, successful Kaski district, connected Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Photo courtesy: Rabindra Adhikari/Twitter

If you look astatine the past of the project, you person to spell backmost 40 years. The onshore wherever the airdrome is presently being constructed was purchased successful the 1980s. But, the task lone took disconnected successful 2011. That said, it took the Nepal authorities six years to finalise a indebtedness from the Chinese authorities to commencement the task officially successful 2017. The statement betwixt Nepal and China states that the task volition beryllium completed astatine the extremity of 2021. But, the chances of that happening are precise slim.

The purpose is to physique an airdrome that volition travel nether the ICAO’s 4D standards. Rajan Pokharel, CAAN’s director-general, says efforts are underway to marque definite that the task is completed connected time. But, owed to Covid-19, things moved astatine a dilatory gait successful 2020 arsenic astir Chinese workers who were an integral portion of the task returned home. 

The readying committee says that enactment inactive needs to beryllium done for bringing a dedicated energy enactment into the airdrome on with mounting up a substance depot. For that to happen, the task needs to get much land, accidental radical associated with the project, but locals person been unwilling to hold connected the acceptable compensation. The full estimated outgo of the task is Rs 21.6 billion.

9. Nijgadh International Airport

In 1995, a consulting firm, NEPICO/IRAD conducted a pre-feasibility survey connected 8 areas of Nepal to urge the champion tract for a caller planetary airport. Based connected the geographical location, topography, region to the largest cities, roadworthy accessibility, wood density and airspace; NEPICO/IRAD suggested Tangyabasti, adjacent Nijgadh, and its surrounding wood country to beryllium the astir due tract for the operation of the airport.

In 2007, the readying committee adjacent asked the authorities to acceptable speech a fund to conception Nepal’s 2nd planetary airport. In 2008, the authorities asked a Korean institution to compile a elaborate feasibility report. But, the authorities has not been capable to determination the task further.

According to CAAN’s director-general Pokhrel, the task is yet to find a modality and wide the tract for construction. 

Work besides has to beryllium done successful regards to relocating Tangyabasti. “We’re inactive counting the trees we request to chopped down. The task hasn’t got the support to chopped down the trees.”

 The authorities has started to acceptable speech a fund for the airdrome since 2014. But, the aboriginal of the project, owed to changeless criticism, is inactive successful doubt. The estimated outgo for the archetypal portion of the task is astir Rs 165 billion.

10. Pushpalal Mid-hill Highway

In the National Transport Policy 2001, a connection to acceptable up a caller road arsenic an alternate to the East-West (Mahendra) Highway was enactment successful place. The authorities started to instrumentality the connection earnestly and acceptable a fund for it successful the fiscal twelvemonth 2007/08. The road would beryllium 1,879 km agelong and would person 121 bridges. 

However, the project, which aims to marque the lives of implicit 10 cardinal radical better, to date, has lone been fractional done.

Like successful each pridefulness projects, the readying committee says that compensation is 1 of the reasons wherefore the task has not been completed. The other, it says, is having occupation identifying roadworthy borders.

There are a fewer areas wherever the road has been forced to divert itself owed to it being successful the mode of hydropower projects. Other than that, the task has besides suffered owed to the deficiency of resources for the operation of the highway.

The officials of the task besides accidental they besides person occupation with the process of cutting down trees and relocating the energy poles and drinking h2o pipes that are connected portion of the places wherever the roadworthy enlargement needs to instrumentality place.

The archetypal outgo of the road was estimated to beryllium Rs 33.36 billion, but now, it has accrued to an unprecedented Rs 101.5 billion.

11. Melamchi Drinking Water Supply Project

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visits the Melamchi Water Supply Project’s h2o attraction works successful Sundarijal arsenic the h2o arrives there, connected Saturday, March 6, 2021. Photo: Chandra Bahadur Ale and Aryan Dhimal

Melamchi Drinking Water Supply Project is different task which was successful talks for a agelong time. Even though the program to commencement the task was made successful the aboriginal 90s, it started to instrumentality signifier successful 1998. Even though the task has someway materialised, it is yet to beryllium afloat complete. 

Currently, the task is successful its investigating signifier arsenic it is trying to place leakage areas. Upon completion, the task aims to nonstop astir 17 cardinal litre h2o regular to Kathmandu.

The task successful the past decades has received further clip connected a regular basis. But, aft Italian contractors CCMC left, the task has been divided into 10 parts. But, coordination among the contractors successful these 10 parts is inactive an issue, claims the readying commission.

Work has besides been affected by Covid-19 portion a modality regarding nett sharing is besides yet to beryllium made. The task has besides not addressed the demands of the locals. 

The outgo which was enactment astatine Rs 17.43 cardinal has present astir doubled to Rs 31/36 billion. 

12. Lumbini Area Development Trust

Maya Devi Temple successful Lumbini

In 1977, the authorities developed a maestro program to make Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The maestro program was aboriginal turned into a nationalist pridefulness project. But 42 years on, the visions connected the maestro program is yet to go a world adjacent though it should person been implicit by 1996. 

An auditorium, 8 taste buildings, a h2o operation and a proviso system, a roadworthy on with the vihar areas, a pond and assorted different monuments were expected to person been made by then.

Apart from that, excavation successful areas similar Tilaurakot, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Devdaha and different areas related to the commencement of Buddha was besides successful place. Around 85 per cent enactment of the task has been completed. 

The readying committee says that enactment would person been completed connected clip had planetary donors fixed the spot the pledged amount. The estimated outgo erstwhile the task commenced was Rs 5.55 billion, which has present accrued to Rs 6.10 billion. 

Rs 300 cardinal outgo added

Due to the hold successful the completion of these projects, the outgo has accrued significantly. According to data, the 12 pridefulness projects which are implicit 2 decades aged person present outgo Nepal Rs 300 cardinal extra. The money, experts say, could person been utilized to implicit a twelve different caller akin projects.

Same problems everywhere

The National Planning Commission successful its yearly gathering has tried to analyse wherefore these projects are facing akin problems which see being fixed a fund without due readying and trouble successful acquiring land.

A erstwhile vice-chairperson of the commission, Govinda Raj Pokharel, says mismanagement, atrocious choices regarding contractors, the deficiency of skilled workforce and different resources are large problems wherefore these pridefulness projects instrumentality clip to complete. 

He says that the authorities needs to get amended successful the absorption of specified projects. He says that if the authorities treats the task with importance, the projects volition beryllium completed close connected time.

Longer the project, the much payment for those involved

Min Bahadur Shrestha, different erstwhile vice-chairperson of the commission, says that astir of the problems are conscionable excuses to widen the projects. “These are nationalist pridefulness projects but sadly nary 1 treats them similar one.”

He says the gait of these projects started to dilatory down aft the reestablishment of multiparty ideology successful 1990. “The authorities started to look astatine however the wealth was being distributed alternatively of looking astatine however businesslike infrastructure improvement could be.”

This resulted successful tiny projects getting much value than the pridefulness projects enactment speech citing the deficiency of budget. Even though recently elected governments announced ambitious pridefulness projects, the implementation has been highly poor, according to experts.

Shrestha says astir of the projects which are being worked connected were envisioned either successful 1990 oregon earlier it.

The existent government, however, successful its five-year plan, has said it volition effort to decorativeness astir of these pridefulness projects by 2024. The commission’s existent vice-chairperson Pushpa Raj Kandel says that the committee is going to bash everything it tin to guarantee that these projects are completed connected time.

But, looking astatine however things person been successful the past, chances of that happening are slim, accidental experts. 

“If enactment was done based connected the plans, nary of them would person taken implicit 2 decades to complete”, says erstwhile concern caput Yubaraj Bhusal.

He says that governmental parties spot these pridefulness projects arsenic the geese that laic the aureate eggs.

“Why would they privation it to halt erstwhile they tin support connected hiring their ain radical and person the reward?” helium says. “As agelong arsenic this lasts, projects volition proceed to spell successful limbo.”

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