KATHMANDU: A Chinese company building a crucial hydroelectric power plant in power-starved Nepal has threatened to pull out, an official said Monday.
Nepalese Energy Ministry spokesman Arjun Karki said the China Three Gorges International Corp. has sent a letter to Nepal's government expressing concern over a parliamentary committee order for the company to suspend work while it investigates possible irregularities in the granting of the firm's license. The company warned in the letter that it could pull out of the project.
The parliamentary Natural Resources and Means Committee said it was probing the government's decision to grant the project to the Chinese company without calling for international bidding.
The company signed an agreement with Nepal's government last month to build the 750-megawatt West Seti Hydroelectric power plant in northwest Nepal.
Under the agreement, the Chinese company would pay for 75 percent of the total cost of the project, while the remainder would be paid for by Nepal's state utility company. The project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion.
Nepal currently faces up to 13 hours of rolling blackouts every day because its power plants can't meet demand.
Nepal's hydroelectric plants are able to supply only about half the electricity required by consumers, and imported power from neighboring India is not enough to make up the shortfall.
Construction of new power plants in Nepal was hampered by a decade-long communist insurgency that ended in 2006.