Parliamentary committee asks energy minister to table energy bills at the earliest

Parliamentary committee asks energy minister to table energy bills at the earliest

Agriculture and Water Resources Committee under legislature-parliament today directed Energy Ministry to table Electricity Bill and Electricity Regulatory Bill in the parliament as soon as possible. Electricity Bill will replace current Electricity Act 1992, whereas  Electricity Regulatory Bill will help form a regulatory agency to regulate electricity prices by monitoring the cost of energy production, power purchase agreement, and transmission and distribution costs. Earlier, the government had tabled both the bills in the legislature-parliament before the house was dissolved in 2012. Lawmakers had also discussed the bills in parliament. "But the energy minister did not include any of those suggestions," said a Constituent Assembly member from Nepal Congress Gagan Thapa, who was CA member in then too. Likewise, the parliamentary committee has also requested Energy Ministry to submit all the documents related to Power Trade Agreement (PTA) with India, including the one that the government recently sent to India as a response to a Indian proposal in June. The ministry's move to keep the Indian proposal – sent in June till August – unnecessary secret attracted negative response forcing both Nepal and India to postpone signing it for 45 days. The committee also has asked the ministry to provide a bilateral energy trading agreement that Nepal signed in 1997 and another proposal for PTA sent to India by Nepal in 2010. The committee sought progress report on PTA with energy minister Radha Kumari Gyawali and energy secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri. The parliamentary committee also invited vice-chairman of National Planning Commission Dr Gobinda Raj Pokharel and officials of Investment Board of Nepal on Thursday to discuss on Power Development Agreement (PDA), the board has prepared to sign with Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. Meanwhile, minister for Irrigation N P Saud informed the committee that his ministry has raised two important issues regarding the PDA of 900-MW Upper Karnali. He said that peaking project will badly affect downstream irrigation projects during dry months as the water flow in the downstream will be far lower than 322  cubic meter per second (cumec). Ranijamara-Kularia, Rajapur and Surya Patuwa are the downstream irrigation projects. As per the project design, they will be affected if water flow is lower than 322 cumec. "Investment-friendly decisions will not necessarily secure national interests," he said, adding that decision makers should sign the deal only after studying the consequences.
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