External Stakeholder Consultation Workshop on Social and Gender Integration Plan (SGIP)

Rajendra Thanju Quality Assurance Manager MCA-Nepal, presenting at the event.

On 21 November 2019, MCA-Nepal organized a half-day stakeholder consultation workshop on SGIP for the Electricity Transmission Project and Road Maintenance Project.  The objectives were to get feedback from the concerned agencies, build ownership and finalize the SGIP document.  

Troy Kofroth, Resident Country Director of MCC, talking about MCC’s Compact and the projects MCA-Nepal is working for.

Mr. Troy E. Kofroth, Resident Country Director, MCC welcomed the participants. Ms. Shalini Tripathi, Deputy Executive Director (Management), MCA-Nepal presented briefly on the Compact and the MCA-Nepal projects. She also highlighted SGIP’s significance in the Compact for which she requested critical feedback and inputs from participants. Ms. Yesiareg Dejene, Gender and Social Inclusion Director, MCC, Washington DC presented on MCC’s approach to gender and social inclusion where she shared Gender Policy 2011 and Operation Documents of MCC which requires gender and social analysis at all stages to inform Compact design. She also presented briefly on the key findings of Social and Gender Assessment Reports of Nepal which provided the base for SGIP. GSI Specialists for MCA-Nepal Ms. Kalawati Rai and Mr. Tara Gnyawali presented the action plans with regard to social and gender inclusion in the different sub-projects inside the Compact.

Ms. Yeshiarege Degene, the Director of GSI at MCC, USA presenting her findings on GSI status of Nepal.

The discussion session in the workshop gave an opportunity to all participants to put forth their views and share their expertise. Participants shared good practices and provided feedbacks on ways to make women and disadvantaged group participate and create opportunities in the project. Mr. Khadga Bahadur Bisht, Executive Director, MCA-Nepal delivered the closing remarks and thanked the participants for their time and ensured their comments would be incorporated in the final document.  

Around 15 people took part including Ms. Sabita Pandey, Section Officer, Electricity Regulation Commission/Nepal Electricity Authority; Ms. Chetna Thapa, Director, Road Board Nepal; Mr. Ram Prasad Gauli, Officer, Road Board Nepal; Mr. Hemantaraj Ghimire, Environmentalist, Department of Energy Development; Mr. Shiva Raj Adhikari, Senior Division Engineer, Department of Road;  Ms. Subha Shrestha, Sociologist, Department of Road; Ms. Sita Duwadi, Section Officer and Gender Focal Person, Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration; Ms. Balkumari Darlami, President, Shakti Samuha and Mr. Narayan Gyanwali, Chairperson, National Association of Community Electricity Users Nepal (NACEUN).

Kala Rai, GSI specialist MCA-Nepal presenting about the action plans with regard to social and gender inclusion in the different sub-projects inside the Compact.

District level Stakeholders Consultation held successfully in Parasi

MCA-Nepal organized a half-day District-level Consultation Program at the DCC Hall in Parasi district on 20 Nov 2019 with an overall objective to share information on MCA-Nepal and the ETP, focusing on its activities in Parasi. The participants were heads of various government entities in the district, Members of Central and Provincial Parliaments, local government representatives from affected municipalities and wards, NGO Federations, media and other concerned stakeholders on the subject matter.

The main objective of the event was,

  • To generate awareness among local stakeholders about MCA-Nepal and the importance of the ETP project
  • To sensitize district government agencies, people’s representatives and local stakeholders on the potential social and environmental impact of project activities and mitigation measures adopted
  • To build a common understanding and consensus among stakeholders about safeguard policies in place for affected communities

The event started with an introduction about the agency by Mr. Khadga Bisht and its governance structure under the Ministry of Finance. He also shared the background of Millennium Challenge Corporation’s work around the world, highlighting the reason Nepal was selected for a 500 million USD grant by MCC and the process undertaken by the Government of Nepal to identify the projects and declaration of ETP as a national pride project. He also talked about the CPs and the status of the program. Mr. Bisht also shared the inter-relationship between electricity consumption and economy citing examples of Asian countries like Bhutan and Laos in his presentation. He explained the status of energy consumption and protection in Nepal and challenges in the development of transmission lines. In his last presentation, Mr. Bisht shed light on some of grievances regarding the alignment of the transmission line received from Parasi district and explained the process and ways of addressing them.

Sharing the probable impact of the project in the lives of people and the environment, Mr. Shyam Upadhyaya highlighted the opportunities in employment, industrial and economic growth. Additionally he informed participants on how different international and national policies will be followed for the environment and social protection activities.

Mr. Rajendra Thanju presented on the safeguarding policies of the project which focuses on protecting the people and environment and enhancing environment sustainability. The Chief Guest of the program, Mr. Harijan acknowledged the importance of electricity transmission lines and the construction of electricity sub-station in the national context and emphasized that there should not be injustice against local people in the process of the implementation of the national pride project.

Presiding over the event, Mr. Ray, the Chief of District Coordination Committee mentioned that a win-win situation should be created for both of the parties to the project i.e. the government and land-owners regarding land acquisition and compensation issues. Ms. Bhagawati Devi Bhandari, a parliamentarian at the Provincial Parliament of Province No. 5 recalled the days when she herself was a victim of a compensation process in a project implemented by the government earlier and appealed to the management to pay attention to provide sufficient compensation to the affected people.

The Special Guest of the program Mr. Marasini, the CDO of Parasi district stated that the compensation distribution against the land acquisition was going to be the most challenging task in the process, but the project should not be disturbed in the name of ‘Sufficient Compensation’. He also provided commitment to ensure necessary support for a project that has been identified as a national pride project by the government.

ETP Outreach event organized in Kathmandu

On 18 November 2019, an outreach event was organized by MCA-Nepal for its Electricity Transmission Project. The objective was to inform potential construction and service providing organizations about upcoming procurement opportunities related to Plant Design, Supply and Installation, Testing and Commissioning of about 300 Kilometers 400 kV D/C Transmission Lines in Nepal; Plant Design, Supply and Installation, Testing and Commissioning of Three (3) 400 kV Substations in Nepal; Power Sector Technical Assistance Activity (Electricity Regulatory Commission and Nepal Electricity Authority); Road Management Technical Assistance (Department of Roads and Roads Board Nepal) and Procurement procedures/methods overview including key timelines.

Mr. Troy Kofroth, Resident Country Director, MCC, presenting at the event.
Participants at the event.

MCC’s Resident Country Director Mr. Troy Kofroth welcomed participants and presented an introduction to MCC and the Nepal Compact highlighting the reason Nepal qualified for MCC’s grant. Ms Shalini Tripathi, DED- Management for MCA-Nepal gave an insight into MCA-Nepal. Mr. Luis Villalta, Procurement Agent Manager shared about the procurement process and stressed upon the fairness criteria in the process of selection. The requirements for the project activities were also shared by respective managers in the two day event. Around 60 people took part.

The success of the MCA-Nepal projects will depend on timely procurement of contractors and consultants for design, construction and supervision of electricity lines and substations, road maintenance works, including a variety of technical services, equipment and construction works in different geographic locations within Nepal. These contracts will be completed through open international procurement procedures and there is an imperative to accomplish the pre-procurement and the procurement activities on time.

Field visit for TL re-alignment in Parasi

MCA-Nepal team and a consultation group from Stantec visited Parasi District from 7 – 12 November 2019 to consult with local residents, including complainants, municipal representatives and government officials regarding the grievances received and possible solutions. The team also visited the transmission Line path and explored possibilities of alternative routes, evaluated the possible environmental and social impacts due to the proposed changes.

In the same visit, the team met with local stakeholders including the CDO of Parasi Mr. Shambhu Prasad Marasini, Mayor of Ramgram Municipality Mr. Narendra Kumar Gupta, Mayor of Sunwal Municipality Mr. Bhim Bahadur Thapa Chettri and Mr. Baiju Prasad Gupta of the local Public Information Center. The main concerns of the local government were regarding the grievances of the local communities settled around the substation area. The team assured the CDO that he would be briefed about the solutions for registered grievances after consultation with stakeholders and field verification.  Numerous public consultations were done before the finalization of route.

Meeting with affected landowners held at Ratmate

On 24 October 2019, MCA-Nepal organized an interaction meeting with Land Value Evaluation Sub-Committee at Ratmate Nuwakot. The team was led by Mr. Badri Nath Gaire, Assistant Chief District Officer of Nuwakot, with the participation of Mr. Hem Nidhi Nepal, the Ward Chair of Belkot Municipality ward no. 7. Representatives from the Land Reform Office and the Land Survey office also took part in the meeting.

The purpose was to create an open grievance handling platform for local landowners who are affected by the Electricity Transmission Project. The discussion provided Affected Person (AP) committee members detailed information on the scope of the Land Value Evaluation Sub-Committee and the process for land valuation. Mr Gaire explained the key indicators taken into consideration to determine the rate of land. The responses were well received by the affected locals including the local government representatives. One of the main concerns raised by the AP committee during the meeting was regarding the relocation and the physical resettlement of the people. As a feedback, the ward chair requested the AP group to appoint a local representative who will act as a focal person for all future grievances handling. The discussion was also aimed to create an understanding of the long term benefit of the project and provide insights into the physical structure of the Ratmate Substation area.

The Electricity Transmission Project (ETP) will build around 318 km of 400 kV electricity transmission lines, three substations, and provide technical assistance for the power sector in Nepal. The 318 km of transmission line will pass through 30 municipalities of 10 districts. More than Eight Hundred towers will be installed to support the transmission lines. The proposed locations for the three sub-stations are in Ratmate, Damauli and New Butwal.

Land to be acquired for Ratmate Sub-Station

A Compensation Fixation Committee meeting, held on 30 September 2019 under the Chairmanship of the Chief District Officer of Nuwakot, has formed a sub-committee to prepare a field study report to fix the compensation rate for the land to be acquired for the construction of a sub-station at Ratmate, Belkotgadhi Municipality of Nuwakot.

The sub-committee formed under Mr. Badri Nath Gairhe, the Assistant Chief District Officer at Nuwakot district has nine members. After a discussion on the preliminary report on the land acquisition at Ward No. 7 of Belkotgadhi Municipality presented by Mr. Shiva Prasad Dhakal, the Preliminary Officer designated for preparing a report on the land acquisition, the meeting ended with a decision to publish a public notice regarding the land acquisition in a national daily. Mr. Khadga Bahadur Bisht, the Executive Director at MCA-Nepal, who also attended the meeting presented an introduction to the project. The meeting was conducted according to the Clause 13 of Land Acquisition Act, 1977.

Millennium Challenge Account Nepal (MCA-Nepal) will be constructing the Ratmate Sub-Station as a part of its Electricity Transmission Project (ETP) which will help Nepal build a 318 KM long 400 kV transmission line.

Program Implementation Agreement signed between the Government & MCC

Resident Country Director Troy Kofroth (center left) with 
 Minister of Finance, Honorable Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada, holding the signed PIA 

The Ministry of Finance representing the Government of Nepal and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) representing the United States Government signed a Program Implementation Agreement on 29 September 2019. The signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Finance with the Minister of Finance, Honorable Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada signing on behalf of Government of Nepal and Mr. Anthony Welcher, Vice President of the Department of Compact Operations, MCC signing on behalf of the U.S. government, represented in Nepal by Mr. Troy E. Kofroth, Resident Country Director.

The event was attended by Finance Secretary Dr. Rajan Khanal, Joint Secretary and Head of International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division Mr. Shreekrishna Nepal, Mr. Khadga Bahadur Bisht, Executive Director, Millennium Challenge Account-Nepal (MCA-Nepal) and other MCC and MCA-Nepal representatives.

The Program Implementation Agreement is an important step toward implementing the $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact in Nepal as it further specifies the terms for implementing the Compact and its activities in Nepal including details of the implementation arrangements, fiscal accountability and disbursement and use of MCC funding, among other matters.

With its signing, Nepal has met one of the key Conditions Precedent to the 30 June 2020 entry into force date after which the five year clock to implementation of the Compact will start. In September 2017, the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation signed the Compact with the Government of Nepal. The Compact aims to increase the availability and reliability of electricity, improve the quality of the roads network and facilitate power trade between Nepal and India – helping to spur investments and accelerate economic growth that will benefit all Nepalese.

To read the signed PIA agreement visit the ‘Main Agreement‘ https://mcanp.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Signed-PIA-29.09.2019.pdf section on our website.

Two day training/workshop program on ‘Procurement Operations Manual’ organized by MCA-Nepal

The Deputy Resident Country Director of MCC Mr. Sanjay Paudyal giving his remarks about the procurement process during the event held from 23rd Sep 2019 till 24th Sep 2019 at the Royal Singhi Hotel.

A two day training/workshop on ‘Procurement Operations Manual’ was held on 23rd of September and the 24th of September at the Royal Singhi Hotel, organized by the Procurement department of MCA-Nepal. The objective of this training is to provide a detailed information on how the procurement system works under MCC’s guidelines, for Nepal’s compact.

The training also provides a detailed overview of the ‘Roles and Responsibilities’ of contract managers and to secure a fair procurement contract for all applicants or agents. The training focused on how suppliers, consultants and service providers can be notified and sensitized-about upcoming MCC funded procurement opportunities.

Mr. Mahendra Shrestha, manager of the MCA-Nepal procurement program talking about the bidding process and bid challenge
Mr. Luis Villalta-procurement Agent Manager presenting on the process of a fair and timely procurement process and its significance for our projects.

District level consultation on ETP organised in Sindhupalchowk

Mr. Khadga Bahadur Bisht, the Executive Director at MCA-Nepal, welcoming the participants at the district level consultation program, organized at Chautara, Sindhupalchowk district.

Sindhupalchok, 22 September 2019

“Basic infrastructures,specifically electricity generation facilities and roads, are the basic requirement to materialize the dream of prosperity in Nepali people and in this context, the Millennium Challenge Compact plays a significant role.” Mr. Sher Bahadur Tamang, the Chief Guest and a Member of Parliament and Ex-Minister for Law and Justice, expressed his opinion in a district level consultation program on Electricity Transmission Project (ETP) of Millennium Challenge Account Nepal (MCA-Nepal) in Chautara of Sindhupalchowk District on 22 September 2019.

Recalling his involvement in reviewing the agreement as the Minister for Law and Justice, Mr. Tamang mentioned that the document was a far-sighted vision in utilizing every unit of the electricity produced in Nepal as well as exporting the surplus production. As Nepal lacks the sufficient investment to build required development infrastructure, the generous grant from the US Government is going to contribute significantly in the economic development of the country,” he added. The event also saw the participation of local government officials, elected representatives and the media.

Mr. Sher Bahadur Tamang, a Member of Parliament and Ex-minister for Law and Justice, delivering his address as the Chief Guest at the program.

Mr. Khadga Bahadur Bisht, the Executive Director at MCA-Nepal presented on the theme, “Transmission Line for Electricity Development in Nepal – where to align the line”.He said,”Electricity consumption is a parameter of development. Statistics show that the more a country produces and consumes electricity, the more it is developed. “Most of the river water, a source for electricity generation is flowing out of our land without being used, so we need to build an environment to encourage electricity production and facilities to link the electricity production and the market”, he stated.

Introducing Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and MCA-Nepal to the gathering, Shalav Risal, the Human Resource and Administration Manager at MCA-Nepal, mentioned that the US $ 500 million worth Nepal Compact is the biggest contribution of MCC in South Asia, and it was provided based on an economic constraint analysis conducted by a joint team of economists working on behalf of the governments of Nepal and the United States.In a presentation on “Environmental Impacts of 400 kV Transmission Line and their Mitigation Measures”, Mr. Shyam Upadhyaya, the Quality Assurance Manager for Environment, Health & Safety at MCA-Nepal, explained about the measures the project is taking for mitigating the environmental, health and livelihood impacts.

Similarly, Rajendra P. Thanju, the Quality Assurance Manager for Social Inclusion and Resettlement at MCA-Nepal, briefed the audience on the provisions the program was going to follow regarding resettlement of affected people in his presentation on “Social Safe guarding Resettlement Policy Framework – better off principle”.In her remarks, Ms. Goma Devi Chemjong, the Chief District Officer of Sindhupalchowk district, expressed her commitment to provide required assistance to let the project complete its work in the district as the initiation was going to contribute to the development of the entire country.

“The project needs full support from local people to implement its plan, “Ms Bhagawati Nepal, the Deputy Mayor at Melamchi Municipality and also the proposed site of the ETP stated, “As long as the program addresses local people’s concerns, the local government will be with it.” Questions related to the private and public land,impact on the buffer zone and livelihood and security of local people, labour security etc. were raised during the open session, which were addressed by concerned officials.

 Ms. Goma Devi Chemjong, the Chief District Officer of Sindhupalchowk district, expressed her commitment to provide required assistance to let the project complete .

The event ended with Ms. Alina Rajbhandary Shrestha, Communications and Public Affairs Manager at MCA-Nepal thanking the participants for their active participation and valuable inputs. Sindhupalchowk is one of the ten districts that will be affected by the electricity transmission line project. Out of 318 KM of 400 kV transmission line, 10 km will pass through four wards (Ward No. 1, 2, 3 and 4) of Melamchi Municipality in the district,and 37 towers will be built for the same purpose in the district. In total,seven public/private structures, 11.55 hectare forest land and 34.81 hectare private land are projected to be affected during the implementation of the project in the district.

The Team of MCA-Nepal along with Mr. Sher Bahadur Tamang , member of Parliament and ex-minister for Law & Justice.

MCA-Nepal is in the preparatory phase to implement the US Government Grant of US $ 500 million and Government of Nepal’s contribution of US $ 130 million in electricity transmission line construction and road maintenance in various parts of Nepal. The Government of Nepal has declared the Electricity Transmission Project, which is responsible for the construction of 313 km of 400 kV double circuit transmission line as a ‘Project of National Pride’.

Local people: happy to collaborate, but concerned about compensation

Route alignment has been improved as per our suggestions: Galchhi Village Municipality Chairperson

Kathmandu, 31 July 2019.

Participants keenly watching a presentation on the final alignment route of proposedelectricity transmission lines in a stakeholder consultation, organized atGalchhi Village Municipality.

“The Right of Way (RoW) provision of your project is going to cross our two houses at  Jamune Danda. After being destroyed by the devastating earthquake in 2015, one of the houses was rebuilt two years ago, and one just last year”, Mr. Prem Bahadur Rana Magar from Nilkantha Municipality shared with a sigh.“It seems that my family will have to search for a roof once again.”

Mr. Prem B. Rana Magar

Mr. Rana Magar, a teacher by profession from Nilkantha Municipality, does not live in those houses, but his father Durga Bahadur Rana Magar and brother Man Bahadur Rana Magar do. Mr. Rana Magar, who is living at Chanaute, at half an hour’s distance from Jamune Danda, voiced his pain- “When I saw the transmission line went above our houses during the presentation, I felt like the wire was crossing through my heart! I don’t know how I am going to convey the message to my father!!

“Anyway, my father won’t have any problem with cooperating with the project. He is a person with strong patriotic feeling.

Mr. Krishna Hari Shrestha, the Chairperson of Galchhi Village Municipality, addressing the gathering of local representatives.

He always says that country comes first. I believe that the project will not exploit his sentiment, but provide him with just compensation”, he said between pauses.

Not only Mr. Rana Magar, but other participants in a local level consultation program also expressed their concerns regarding the compensation to be provided for the private properties affected by the Electricity Transmission Project, being implemented by Millennium Challenge Account Nepal (MCA-Nepal). However, responses from the MCA-Nepal representatives helped calm their concerns.

The 16 June 2019 consultation was organized to share the final alignment route of the proposed 400 kV electricity transmission lines and preliminary findings of the Environmental Impact Assessment Baseline Survey with representatives from local governments and Community Forest User Groups from Galchhi Village Municipality and Nilkantha Municipality in Dhading district. The program was just one in the important series of consultations with local stakeholders in 30 municipalities through which the transmission line is going to cross.

A route map of transmission lines travelling through Galchhi Village Municipality.

Briefing the participants on the Electricity Transmission Project, Mr. Shyam K. Upadhyaya, the Quality Assurance Manager at MCA-Nepal, said, “This mega project is aiming to increase the country’s economic productivity by connecting various power houses’ electricity production in the national grid system. So it is a great opportunity to contribute and cooperate towards the nation’s development for the successful implementation of the mission.”

“We are exercising maximum caution to avoid any negative impact to private and public property as well as environmental and heritage sites in the course of the construction of the sub-stations, towers and lines”, he added, “However, it won’t be possible to completely neutralize the impact, so the project is going to compensate the damage in a fair and justifiable manner.”

Mr. Shyam K. Upadhyaya, the Quality Assurance Manager at MCA-Nepal, briefing the participants on the Electricity Transmission Project.

Mr. Madhukar Khadka, a representative of a consultant firm to MCA-Nepal, informed the gathering that the transmission lines will go through Ward No. 2, 3, and 8 of Galchhi Village Municipality and Ward No. 5 of Nilkantha Municipality.

Recalling a meeting with MCA-Nepal some time ago, Mr. Krishna Hari Shrestha, the Chairperson of Galchhi Village Municipality, said “I have found the transmission line route alignment has been amended as per our suggestions provided last time. Only three wards of Galchhi have been touched where as there were five wards in the proposed route last time. I have taken it as a commitment of the project to protect public property and consider our suggestions.”

He suggested collaboration with local people respecting their attachment to their land, heritage and environment.

Ms. Radha Timilsina, the Vice-Chairperson of Galchhi Village Municipality requested MCA-Nepal to hire local people in the project implementation process based on their capability and qualifications.

Mr.. Madhukar Khadka, a representative from a consultant firm, showing the alignment route of the transmission line.

Sharing her experience with the difficulty caused by other power projects in receiving compensation, she stressed that similar history should not be repeated for the smooth operation of this project.

Mr.. Nawa Raj Dhungana, Ward No. 5 Committee of Nilkantha Municipality, expressed concern about potential health impacts from the transmission line and requested MCA-Nepal to mitigate the project’s impact on community and religious forests.

Mr. Khadananda Khanal, the Chairperson of Ward No. 2 of Galchhi Village Municipality said, “Local people will be pleased to cooperate in moving the project ahead if the project fulfills their aspirations. Compensation should be fair and relocation cost should also be provided. We also request you to provide some community benefit, such as renovation of Bhaktabatsala Temple, replacing the existing transformers with high capacity transformers”

A route map of transmission lines travelling through Nilkantha Municipality.

Responding to the concerns, raised in the discussion, Mr. Upadhyaya mentioned, “We have a program, called MCA Partnership program, under which we incorporate community benefit initiatives. They will help in community development. We are also going to prioritize to provide capable local people with employment in project sites.”

Stating that there is no scientific basis on the claim that transmission lines can cause health impacts as they release less rays than mobile phones, he added, “But there are risks in staying under the lines. Long exposure to the rays may cause health hazards. Transmission lines could break and cause accidents. So we don’t allow the building of houses under the lines.” 

MCA-Nepal is in the last phase of preparation to incorporate the construction of a 318 KM long 400 kV electricity transmission line, which will run through Lapsephedi-Ratmate-Hetauda and Ratmate-New Damauli-New Butwal. It is going to touch 30 municipalities in 10 districts, and Galchhi Rural Municipality and Nilkantha Municipality are two of them.