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West Seti power project: India-Nepal ties

  • Published
    20th Jun, 2022

India will be taking over an ambitious hydropower project in Nepal, West Seti, nearly four years after China withdrew from it.

  • The Government of Nepal has decided to hand over the agreement of the 750-megawatt (MW) West Seti Hydropower Project and 308 MW SR6 Storage Hydroelectric Project to India's National Hydro Power Company Limited (NHPC).
  • West Seti is a 750MW hydro power project.
  • It is planned on West Seti river/basin in Seti, Nepal.

Six decade wait:

  • West Seti Hydropower Project, which is to be built on the Seti River in far-western Nepal, has remained on the drawing board for the last six decades.
  • China’s Three Gorges Corporation had informed the Nepal Government in August 2018 that it would not be able to execute the 750-MW West Seti Hydropower Project.
  • Prior to that, the Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) had been refused renewal of its licence following its failure to begin the work “convincingly” during an entire decade from the mid-1990s.
  • The Australian company had been given a generation licence for 30 years under a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) scheme.

India -Nepal power relations:

  • Nepal is rich in power sources with around 6,000 rivers and an estimated potential for 83,000 MW. India has formally approached Nepal on many occasions.
  • India is viewed as a feasible market for Nepal, but there has been some uncertainty in Nepal over India’s inability to deliver projects on time. India has undertaken to harness or expressed intent to harness major rivers in the north.
  • An ambitious Mahakali treaty was signed back in 1996, to produce 6,480 MW, but India has still not been able to come out with the Detailed project Report.
  • The Upper Karnali project, for which the multinational GMR signed the contract, has not made any headway for years. 
  • West Seti, therefore, has the potential to be a defining model for Nepal India’s power relations in future.
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