EIA: West Seti Hydroelectric Project

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The 750-megawatt (MW) West Seti Hydroelectric Project in Nepal’s Far-Western Development Region (FWDR), proposed by West Seti Hydro Limited (WSH), is a storage scheme designed to generate and export large quantities of electrical energy to India. The Project will generate electrical energy throughout the year, storing excess wet season river flows in the reservoir, and using this water to generate energy during peak demand periods in the dry season.

SMEC International prepared a detailed environmental impact assessment (EIA) (seven volumes) for the Project, as required by the Government of Nepal to seek project approval. The EIA was prepared between 1996 and 2000 in accordance with Government requirements by a team of in-house SMEC International specialists and local and international specialists. Planning requirements include the Environment Protection Regulation 1997 and the subsequent 1999 amendment to the regulation made under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act (1996). The EIA includes an environmental management action plan and resettlement action plan. In 2000, the Ministry of Population and Environment, now the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, approved the Project.

In 2007, an EIA was prepared for the project transmission line, the only component of the Project that had not been assessed in detail in the 2000 EIA. The 2007 EIA is about to be submitted to Government approval authorities. In 2006/07, a household census and sample socioeconomic survey were undertaken to update the resettlement action plan, while a vulnerable community development plan was prepared to focus on this group. In addition, a cumulative impact assessment and disaster management plan were prepared for the Project in 2007 and all costs were updated.

The Project is classified as ADB environment category A, primarily due to the magnitude of resettlement and the adverse impacts on land use and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This summary environmental impact assessment (SEIA) is based on the project EIA (2000), transmission line EIA (2007), social update work, vulnerable community development plan (2007), cumulative impact assessment (2007) and disaster management plan (2007), with costs updated to 2007 prices and the main Seti River hydrological figures updated to include recent data.

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