The much-awaited Kohalpur-Surkhet 132 KVA transmission line, the dream project of the residents of Karnali State, is set to resume after a halt of 32 years.
This project will cater to the residents of mountainous and hilly districts of the state, who have been suffering from low voltage for ages. Initially started in 2045 B.S., the project was in limbo as a result of political movements and instability time and again. On July 6, an agreement for the expansion of the project has been reached with the construction company, R.S. Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd. Rs 700 million has been proposed as an initial cost for the project.
The construction company is asked to complete construction work like designing, construction, testing, distribution, and machinery procurement within two years. In the first phase, trees along the project would be chopped down for the expansion of the line, said the project chief Rabi Kumar Chaudhary.
Member of House of Representatives from Surkhet-2 and Minister of State for Health and Population, Nawaraj Rawat, who has been taking initiative for the prompt completion of the project, said that the project would make it easier to expand electricity in Karnali.
He said, "There was a problem in the power supply. So there was no environment for the establishment of industries in Karnali. Construction of this project is the matter of happiness to Karnali folks."
Customers of Surkhet, Dailekh, Salyan, Rukum (West), and Jajarkot districts had been facing problems due to low voltage. One hundred forty-five electric poles and 26 angle towers from Kohalpur to Surkhet have been proposed in the project.
As per the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, the height of the project area is 160 to 1,115 meters. Transmission line route passes through Banke National Park, its buffer zone, Bardiya National Park and its buffer zone, different community, and government forest areas. Around 7,000 trees would be cut down.
Project Chief Chaudhary said that such a number of trees have to be cut down as the line is going to be expanded via Banke and Bardiya National Parks. They have submitted papers to the Forest and Environment Ministry for permission to cut the trees.
A total of 98.0579 hectares of land would be required for the construction of the tower, sub-station, and the right of way for the implementation of the project. Out of this area, 3.7249 hectares would be used for the construction of a permanent sub-station while 3.3075 hectares would be acquired for building the foundation of the towers and the rest 91.0255 hectares land would be used temporarily.
The proposed project length is approximately 51.462 kilometers double-circuit. The Kohalpur Municipality and Baijanath Rural Municipality of Banke district, the Bansgadhi Municipality of Bardiya district, Bheriganga, Lekbensi and Birendranagar municipalities of Surkhet district would be affected by the project.
Five districts out of reach of the national grid
Meanwhile, five districts in Karnali province are still not connected to the national grid. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)'s provincial office Surkhet said Kalikot, Jumla, Dolpa, Mugu and Humla districts do not have access to the national grid and it will take at least two years to reach the grid to these districts.
Preparations have been started to extend the Jajarkot-Dolpa, the Kalikot-Jumla, and the Nagma-Mugu 33 kV transmission line. The NEA regional office was set up in Surkhet three years ago for the extension of electricity in Karnali. The office that was without any staff for two years has been transformed into a Province Office last year.
Only 77 thousand households in Karnali have access to the national grid at present. Power is being supplied by micro hydroelectricity projects in some districts.