Sankhuwasabha locals agree on resettlement plan
Feb 26, 2016- Hundreds of locals to be displaced by the proposed Arun III hydropower project have agreed on a resettlement action plan put forth by the project’s developer--India’s SJVN. A tri-party agreement was signed by Investment Board Nepal (IBN), SJVN and the locals of Sankhuwasabha on Thursday. After the signing, the project said it plans to complete land acquisition work before monsoon. Hari Ram Subedi, residence representative of SJVN, said the developer was now waiting for a formal approval letter from IBN, after which it would issue a public notice on land acquisition. “We expect the IBN’s approval to come within a couple of days. We plan to issue the notice on land acquisition by next week,” said Subedi, adding land transaction in the project area would be halted after the issuance of the notice. A compensation determination committee under the leadership of the chief district officer would start negotiations with the locals on land valuation within 15 days after the notice is issued. “If everything goes as planned, the land acquisition process will be completed before June,” said Subedi. According to IBN, since the locals have agreed to the developer’s resettlement plan, the negotiation process would not be lengthy.
Locals of Diding, Yafu, Num and Hedangnagadi have been elated after the signing of the agreement. “This is a positive development and we are happy with the resettlement plan,” said Asar Man Rai, a local. The resettlement plan complies with the Asian Development Bank’s “safeguard standard”, according to an IBN official. “The affected people will be compensated as per the international relocation and resettlement standard. Besides, the affected people will also be compensated for their crops and trees on the land.”The locals would also be provided with food and shelters for the first six months. “If they wish to build homes somewhere else, they will be paid money in line with current market rates,” said the IBN official.
The board has said it has adopted a scientific method to determine the compensation. For example, if an orange tree is chopped down, the project will provide integrated compensation to the owner. From tree planting to production, the overall cost will be calculated and added to the compensation amount. Likewise, people at the project site who have been doing business by leasing land will also be compensated in a fair manner. On November 24, 2014, the board and SJVN signed a project development agreement (PDA) for the 900MW Arun III hydropower project. As per the agreement, SJVN will complete the construction of the plant and start energy generation by 2020. According to IBN, Nepal will receive Rs348 billion over 25 years from the project. SJVN will provide 21.9 percent of the energy generated free of cost, which is worth Rs155 billion, plus another Rs107 billion in royalties. As per the PDA, the Indian company will allot shares worth Rs1.6 billion to locals, 50 percent of which will be issued within two years of the project’s launch. The rest of the shares will be issued at a later date at a premium.