Court order halting extraction of river materials affects Rahughat hydel project


Kathmandu, Dec 10: The court order not allowing the extraction of river materials from the Kaligandaki river has affected the ongoing construction of the 40 megawatts Rahughat hydropower project.     

The court's verdict has contradicted the project's approved environmental impact assessment report that allows the extraction of river materials from the designated areas, said the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). As a result, the project risks being closed, it added.     

On July 13, 2021, a single bench of the then Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana ordered not to do or cause to do any activities like constructing a reservoir by diverting its natural flow, polluting, and extracting river materials including Shaligram (the holy stones) from the river that would affect the natural flow of the river and cause a damage to the environment until the writ petition was decided. The river is important religiously, historically and environmentally, it reasoned.     

A team comprising Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Shakti Bahadur Basnet, NEA executive director Kulman Ghising, deputy executive director Pradip Kumar Thike had gone to the project site on Saturday in connection with carrying out its monitoring.     

On the occasion, the project management and the contractor company had briefed the visiting high-level team that the construction was hampered after the ban on quarrying the river-based construction materials following the Supreme Court's interim order.     

Minister Basnet has reiterated that initiatives would be taken to resolve the problem. According to NEA, the Minister said the progress of project construction is satisfactory and the necessary initiatives, coordination and facilitation would be done at the highest level for addressing the problem to do with the quarrying of river-based materials. He also directed the project management to complete the project on the stipulated time.     

The contractor company has expressed the commitment to complete the construction works of the project within the next 15 months if the existing shortage of river-based construction materials like stones, pebbles and sand is removed. The overall physical progress of the project is 65 percent at present.     

The construction of structures like the reservoir, the main tunnel, powerhouse etc is ongoing. Of the total six kilometres long main tunnel, construction of 5.6 kilometres is already completed. The construction of civil structures of the powerhouse and installation of equipment is also ongoing. (RSS)

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