June 8: The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Betan Karnali Hydropower Project, which will have investment from Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), will be ready by mid-October. The completion of DPR of the peaking-run-of-the-river (PROR) hydropower project was initially scheduled for February. However, due to need of additional study and disturbance created by Covid-19 pandemic, the deadline for finalising DPR had been postponed.
Currently, Nepal Engineering Company under the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is preparing the DPR of the project.
It is for the first time EPF has decided to construct a hydropower project on its own. EPF has been allocating some amount from bonuses of its depositors for the development of the 442MW project. Betan Karnali Hydropower Project has been planned to be funded by majority share of EPF depositors. For the purpose, EPF has been working by establishing the Betan Karnali Sanchayakarta Hydropower Company Limited (BKSHCL).
“Further study was needed as this is a big project. So, the DPR deadline was extended,” said Deepak Rauniyar, managing director of BKSHCL. “It got delayed because of the Covid-19 crisis, but now we have targeted to finalise the DPR by mid-October.”
The company received government’s approval for the construction of the project on May 21, 2017. Initially, Betan Karnali Hydropower Project’s capacity was reported at 688MW. Now works are ongoing to prepare its DPR under the reduced capacity of 442MW.
The project, which will cover parts of Achham and Surkhet districts of the Karnali Province, will have investment totaling Rs 76 billion; 70 percent of the investment or Rs 48 billion will be managed from loans while the rest 30 percent or Rs 28 billion will be managed from equity of raised under the leadership of EPF. Of the equity amount, 40 percent will be depositors’ money, 15 percent from EPF, 10 percent from NEA and 10 percent from Vidhyut Utpadan Company Limited. The remaining 25 percent equity will be raised from the general public.
EPF has been allocating 50 percent of depositors’ bonus for the generation of capital for the project for the last three years. The amount has reached more than Rs 4 billion. According to EPF officials, Rs 8.40 billion of depositors’ money will be invested in the project and it will take three more years to collect all the investment required for the construction of the project.
EPF has prioritised domestic banks for loan investment. The fund plans to borrow a total of Rs 48 billion for the project out of which Rs 30-35 billon will be raised from Nepal Infrastructure Bank. The rest of the amount will be raised from capital market and international banks.
EPF Administrator Tulsi Prasad Gautam said that they will also borrow from international banks. “We are looking forward to raise loan investment from local and international banks. If this doesn’t go well, we will issue bonds,” he inmformed. “The size and capital of Nepali bank is increasing. So, we believe that the loans can be raised domestically.” According to Gautam, it will take one and a half to two years for the completion of the financial closure of the project.