The stage has finally been set for the construction of the West Seti Hydro Project in Doti district and is envisaged to generate 750 MW of electricity. This has come about as a result of the signing of the 18-point Memorandum of Understanding between the representatives of the Nepal Investment Board and the CWE Investment Company, a subsidiary of the China Three Gorges Corporation. The hydro-project will be of a reservoir type. The project is to be in a public-private partnership, which means a better approach for the mega project. One of the important highlights of the MOU is that 10 per cent of the shares are to be allotted to the local people and 150MW is to be allocated for the development of the local area. This in itself will be more than important when the construction works are started. This is so because as has been seen in a number of hydro-projects, the local people have often hindered with the construction works with a number of demands to be fulfilled, which leads not only in a delay in the completion of the project but also adds to the overrun costs. Hence, the allocation of 10 per cent shares to the local people would mean their participation in the big project and a sense of ownership that would lead to smooth construction works.
This project also has the specialty for the construction of the transmission lines, from Doti to Butwal in the south, together with the project construction. This obviously alleviates the later problem of constructing the transmission lines to feed the electricity generated by the hydro project and save on the time-consuming process. Though the news is welcome that the project has received the go-ahead signal, it now rests on the government to create conducive work environment so that the project works do not suffer in any way. The management of the displaced people is also equally important. The local people have to feel that the project is there for their benefit also. Besides generating employment opportunities, the 150MW that will be distributed to the development of the local region also holds significance as electricity will power economic transformation for the far western region that has been quite deprived.
The aim of making the hydro-project multi-purpose too is a unique endeavour. With all the inputs into the project being looked into right at the beginning, thanks to the inputs of parliamentary committees, there is reason to believe that it will be completed as has been projected by 2020. If everything goes well with the generation of funds and without any sort of obstruction during the construction phase, the project will be completed in time. However, the government has the responsibility of providing the right security because it concerns the investor and their investment. They cannot be compromised on any account because the completion of the West Seti Hydro Project will herald a new era for the far western region which is abundantly endowed with natural resources but investments to tap them had been sparse. The effort that has gone into making the MOU possible has to be commended and it can be hoped that it will become a major ingredient in the far west’s economic development when the West Seti project is finally commissioned.
Despite the tall talks and the existing legal provisions, violence against women has continued to make the headlines. The Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), a non-governmental women’s rights organisation, said that it had recorded 114 cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the one month period from mid-July to mid-August. The most shocking revelation was that 12 women were murdered during the period while 61 women were subjected to domestic violence while 37 were victims of physical assault. This is enough to reflect the status of women in the country. The constitution provisions equal rights to all irrespective of sex, caste or religion, but the reality speaks otherwise.
The government time and again makes commitment to firmly tackle all forms of violence and torture against women. Yet, what the ground realities speak are contrary to the government claims. In all this, a major reason for the physical and mental torture of women is related to the dowry. Dowry-related violence and murders top the list of GBV.