India and Nepal have agreed to assemble a team of experts to resolve their differences and finalise the detailed project report (DPR) for the long-awaited 6,480-megawatt Pancheshwar Multipurpose bi-national power plant on the Mahakali River border, according to a report by The Kathmandu Post.
The resolution was achieved during a meeting of the Pancheshwar Development Authority’s governing council held in Pokhara, Nepal on Thursday and Friday.
“The team of experts, whose term expired in March, will be extended,” said Madhu Bhetuwal, Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation ministry spokesperson. He also mentioned that the next meeting of experts is set to happen within 10 days to finalise the DPR.
The Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) is a joint venture between India and Nepal. The project, included in the integrated Mahakali Treaty signed by both nations in 1996, will consist of underground powerhouses of equal size (3,240 MV) on each side of the Mahakali River.
In addition to generating electricity, the PMP will irrigate 130,000 hectares of land in Nepal and 240,000 hectares in India, while also providing flood protection and other benefits.
Despite the clear benefits, the finalisation of the Pancheshwar Project’s DPR has been hindered by disagreements on several key issues. “We started with over 500 unresolved issues, but we’ve now managed to bring that number down to 127,” Bhetuwal, who also serves as a joint secretary at Nepal’s energy ministry, stated.
The upcoming experts’ meeting, the date of which remains unconfirmed, is a significant step towards finalising the DPR. This progress follows the agreement reached by the prime ministers of both countries last month to finalise the DPR within three months during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s visit to India from May 31 to June 3.
During Prachanda’s visit, both governments resolved to expedite bilateral discussions for an early finalisation of the Pancheshwar DPR.