Nepal: Early warning regarding possibility of violence at construction site of Khimti-Dhalkebar 220 KV Transmission Lines under the World Bank funded Nepal Power Development Project

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    On Monday, 1 April 2013, project personnel, including Project Chief KanaiyaLalManandhar, accompanied by police officers armed with rifles returned, after a long hiatus, to BukaDanda, Kamalamai municipality in Sindhuli district to resume construction of Khimti-Dhalkebar 220 KV Transmission Lines under the World Bank funded Nepal Power Development Project, as per the information received. When approximately 70 people including women and children obstructed the construction works, the project personnel and police officers allegedly threatened to come back with stronger force and preparation. As a result, the locals are living in extremely fearful situation.

    Indigenous and local communities in the district have been protesting, often resulting in clashes with the police, against the construction of transmission lines for its possible impacts on the communities. More about 150,000 people across five districts will be affected according to the Environmental Impact Assessment report of the project. The construction of transmission tower at the site had earlier been suspended under pressures from the indigenous and local communities. As per the information received, alternative routes for the transmission lines not passing through human settlements were explored in the initial survey. But, ultimately the current route was chosen that would pass through cultivable lands, houses, schools and cultural sites in Sindhuli district without undertaking any consultation and acquiring their consent for the project. Thus,the local and indigenous communities are concerned about range of social, economic and other impacts of the construction.

    Scores of locals, including women, were severely injured in violent clashes with the police force in November 2012 when the local administration had issued shooting orders to push through the construction works under a curfew. Indigenous and local communities with support of local political representatives have informed of the situation to relevant government authorities, including the Prime Minister’s Office and also submitted complaint to National Human Rights Commission.

    A writ petition was filed at Nepal’s Supreme Court in January 2013 requesting interim order to halt the construction of transmission lines. The Court had denied such order at the phase of the project where the land acquisition for the project had been completed as per information provided by NEA.

    Representatives of indigenous and local communities had also held a consultation with World Bank Nepal officials on 15 March 2013 to express their concerns and call on the Bank to seek alternatives for the construction. The World Bank had assured them of holding further consultations after hearing from the project-implementing agency, Nepal Electricity Authority, on their concerns. However, any further communication from the Bank is yet to be received, including on the request of the communities to hold field visit to monitor compliance of World Bank’s Safeguard policies.

    Also see Indigenous and local communities call on World Bank to seek alternatives for construction of Khimti-Dhalkebar 220 KV Transmission Line

    Source: LAHURNIP