It was a bold target and a challenging task to sell shares to the public, but it was an attempt to make up for lost time on power projects delayed by the 2015 earthquake and the Indian Blockade. However, no one could have predicted that the country would face an even more serious crisis this year with the global pandemic.
While landslides and flash floods this monsoon as well as the COVID-19 lockdown have taken a year off construction schedules, the global economic downturn is also expected to reduce the public’s ability to invest in shares and attract foreign joint ventures in the hydropower projects.
Even so, CEO Chhabiraj Pokharel of the Hydropower Investment and Development Company Limited (HIDCL) says the plan is to start construction on all 21 projects in the next four years so as to meet the intrim target of generating 3,500MW in five years.
Despite his optimism, only one of the projects, the Upper Trisuli-3 (60MW), which went into operation in November, has been commissioned in the past year-and-half since the initiative was launched amidst much fanfare by Prime Minister Oli.
The 111MW Rasuwagadi and 57MW Upper Sanjen are nearing completion, and have released shares to employees. Another project is halfway, but the other 14 have not gotten off the ground.