Nepal Maoists train guns on yet another Indian firm

Saturday, December 11, 2010

KATHMANDU - Continuing their policy of obstructing Indian investors, Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas Saturday trained their guns on yet another Indo-Nepal joint venture, threatening to bring it to a halt.

The government of Nepal had awarded the licence to Green Ventures Pvt. Ltd., founded by IIT alumnus K.R. Krishnan, along with his Nepali partner, to survey the 120MW Likhu 4 hydropower project that is sprawled over two districts in eastern Nepal, Okhaldhunga and Ramechhap.

Both districts were Maoist strongholds during the 10-year civil war waged by the former guerrillas and were among the worst-hit by violence.

The government is expected to ink a fresh agreement with Green Ventures, giving it the go-ahead to develop the project.

However, on the eve of the new contract, the Ramechhap wing of the Maoists, who are now the largest party in parliament, issued six demands Saturday, warning they would stop the project if these were not fulfilled.

A statement signed by “Kushal”, who called himself the secretary of the Maoists’ district committee, said the project went against the right of locals to their own natural resources.

The former rebels are demanding that residents be given five percent of the shares free and another 20 percent be reserved for local participation.

The districts should also be paid royalty and the power generated would first have to be given to the two districts at the cheapest tariff. Only the surplus power can be sold outside.

The rebels are also demanding jobs for locals as well as infrastructure development in the areas of health, education, transport, drinking water supply and irrigation.

The fresh threat comes after the Maoists last month produced a hit list of hydropower companies, of which over a dozen were Indian companies and JVs.

Though the threat created an outcry with Nepal’s business chambers and power producers condemning it and the government being forced to assure it would ensure security, the new warning seems to indicate nothing has changed as far as the Maoists are concerned.

The threat to stop Likhu 4 also comes at a time a delegation from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) visited Nepal and offered to bring fresh Indian investment.

The Maoist attack on Indian investment in the hydropower sector exposes the dual policy in the party. Some of the licences were given by a coalition government in which the Maoists were a dominant partner and some were issued during the brief tenure of Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as the prime minister.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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