Amlekhgunj-Motihari petroleum pipeline: IOC expresses concern over project progress

Friday, September 28th, 2018 | | Money

Sep 28, 2018-Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has expressed its concern over the Amlekhgunj-Motihari petroleum pipeline project that has been stuck in limbo due to the delay in getting approval of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

An estimated 25,000 trees are expected to be chopped down by the project. Additionally, nearly 2,100 electricity poles need to be shifted.

During a two-day bilateral meeting held in Kathmandu on Thursday, the Indian oil supplier asked the Nepali side to finalise the EIA report soon so that the project could meet its targeted construction deadline.

“Although NOC was set to discuss various issues such as building the liquefied petroleum gas storage plant in Dhanusha, extending the pipeline up to Lothar of Chitwan and constructing the cross border LPG pipeline on Thursday’s meeting, it mainly concentrated on how the petroleum pipeline project could be expedited,” an NOC official said.

Work on the pipeline started last March and was scheduled to be completed by June 2019. However, the project is unlikely to meet the completion deadline as a number of issues including land clearance in numerous locations where the pipeline will be laid have not been settled yet.

NOC’s Director Bhanu Bhakta Khanal said the EIA of the project is under discussion at the Ministry of Forests and Environment. According to him, the project is currently facing hurdles from local residents at the 18-km stretch of Parwanipur and Jitpur segment.

“The locals are denying shifting from the encroached settlement area,” Khanal said.

NOC officials said Indian federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan is scheduled to arrive on Friday. According to the NOC source, Pradhan will make a visit of the pipeline construction site in Simara. He will also be visiting proposed LPG storage plant sites in Mahendranagar of Dhanusha.

The government has identified the Amlekhgunj-Motihari petroleum pipeline as a national priority project. The scheme was first proposed in 1995, but it gained momentum only after the two governments signed an agreement on August 25, 2015.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs4.4 billion. India will spend Rs3.2 billion while Nepal will pay the rest, according to the bilateral agreement.