Kathmandu, July 20 - An Indian proposal for the development of Nepal's abundant water resources has triggered a row in the Himalayan nation with many political parties opposing it contending it was not in Nepal's national interest.
At a closed-door meeting here, several former energy ministers of Nepal opposed the Indian proposal to develop Nepal's hydro power sector and said it is a bid to make Nepal another Bhutan.
The proposal was forwarded during the concluding phase of the Manmohan Singh government.
The row comes ahead of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Kathmandu, beginning July 25.
The proposal has drawn flak due to two reasons.
Firstly, the proposal was kept a secret, even from some cabinet ministers, who are now demanding that the document be made public.
Second, it is being seen as a proposal that will allow India to dominate the abundant hydropower sector in Nepal.
Nepal is rich in hydropower with 83,000 MW of theoretical and 42,133 MW of technically/financially viable potential. However, even with this enormous potential and a 100-year history of hydropower development, the total installed capacity, at present, is a mere 730.47 MW.
Indeed over the past four years there has been a severe electricity deficit, inducing painful load shedding.
The main opposition United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) expressed its concern over the Indian proposal and said some of the provisions were against Nepal's interest.
It said the provisions on energy generation, cooperation, energy buying and selling and price determination gave exclusive rights to India. Several other clauses of the proposed draft were also directed at providing benefit to India, said the party.
A meeting of the ruling alliance partner Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) Saturday discussed the Indian proposal and asked Energy Minister Radha Gyawali to submit a satisfactory explanation.
The leading ruling partner, Nepali Congress, was still to make its stand clear on the issue clear.
On Saturday, UCPN-M chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal telephoned Acting Prime Minister Bam Dev Gautam and asked him not to accept any proposal that will put Nepal's energy market in Indian hands, said Maoist vice chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
The raging controversy has led to Nepal cancelling the Eight Meeting of the Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) scheduled to be held in New Delhi Sunday and Monday.
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