Three national pride projects record zero progress

By Modnath Dhakal
Kathmandu, Mar.9:
Pokhara Regional Airport, Second International Airport at Nijgadh and Budhigandaki Hydroelectricity Project have emerged as the worst performers among the 21 national pride projects with zero or negligible budget consumption.
The Pokhara Regional International Airport and Second International Airport at Nijgadh of Bara district witnessed zero performance in terms of budget utilisation as they couldn’t spend a single penny of the allocated budget Rs. 5 billion and Rs. 1.5 billion respectively in the first half of the current fiscal year 2017/18.
Similarly, only Rs. 13.5 million of the Rs. 10.17 billion has been spent on the Budhigandaki - a 1,200 megawatt reservoir-type hydroelectricity project in Dhading and Gorkha, according to the Mid-Term Review of the current year’s budget by the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
Most of the budget it spent has gone to paying compensation for land acquisition.
Other projects with poor performance are the Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track Road Project and Melamchi Water Supply Project.
The Fast Track has a Rs. 10.14 billion budget, but only about 3 per cent of it has been spent in the first six months of the fiscal year. The government had also allocated Rs. 10 billion last FY, which also couldn’t be utilised.
Although the government handed over the 76.2-km-long road, connecting the capital city with the southern Terai belt, to the Nepal Army in August last year, it is yet to develop a new Detailed Project Report (DPR) while the government has already decided not to use the DPR developed by an Indian company, IL&FS.
However, the NA has expedited the construction works as well as clearing the forest and has said that by the end of the current fiscal year, the project would witness significant progress. The Army had completed opening the tracks of the project five years ago.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Melamchi Water Supply Project, which was started in 2002 and supposed to have been completed in 2007, has achieved 93 per cent physical progress. The deadline of this project has been extended multiple times in the past couple of years.
“Weak management of the construction companies, poor performance of the machinery, lack of sufficient human resource and delay in pipe-laying in the Kathmandu Valley have negatively impacted the progress of the project,” said the MoF.
However, highway and irrigation projects have achieved significant progress in the first six months of this year with the Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project and Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project achieving 62.6 per cent and 38.9 per cent financial progress respectively, and the Mid-Hill Highway, North-South Highways (Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali) and Postal Highway utilising 57.33 per cent, 46.9 per cent and 44.6 per cent of the budget respectively.
In monetary terms, the Mid-Hill Highway became the best performer as it spent Rs. 2.3 billion of the total 4.02 billion budget from mid-July 2017 to mid-January 2018.
The Rs. 16.43 billion Bheri-Babai will provide irrigation facility to 51,000 hectares of land in Banke and Bardiya districts and will generate 48 MW electricity. The project’s is to be completed in 2022.
Similarly, the Rani Jamara will irrigate 38,300 hectares of land in Kailali district. The Rs. 12.65 billion project has achieved 66 per cent physical progress so far.
The government categorised 17 projects as national pride ones about 5 years ago. The government in 2014/15 added 4 other projects to the list.
These projects have received Rs. 63.70 billion budget allocations in the current fiscal year, but the overall expenditure is Rs. 12.5 billion, about 19 per cent of the total money.
Finance Minister Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada said during the Mid-Term Budget Review that the national pride projects were facing problems like confusion in the construction modality, involvement of multiple-stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation, low bidding, hurdles in land acquisition and shortage of skilled technical human resources.
He indicated towards the need of a Project Operation Law for the efficient implementation of large infrastructure projects.

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