Nearly-finished Birgunj ICP lacks power supply

May 03, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, Shankar Acharya, 4th May 2017, Parsa

Construction of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) on the Nepal side in Birgunj is nearing completion, but it still does not have an electricity connection. Officials said that delays in connecting the power supply would leave the ICP non-operational.

Om Prakash Sharma, president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the facility was in the final stages of completion but the authorities concerned had not shown any interest in getting an electricity connection which could affect the online systems that need to be installed and tested before the much-delayed facility opens. 

“The customs office at the country’s largest trading gateway is being integrated with Indian customs for the first time,” he said, adding that official disinterest in installing a power connection prior to starting operations could make the project problematic.

The ICP needs a 1,250 kV electricity supply and a separate feeder, said Chutun Kumar Srivastava, chief of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), Birgunj distribution centre.  Construction of a 12-km-long dedicated feeder to the ICP from the Parwanipur substation started three years ago, and it is yet to be completed. Srivastava said that upgradation of the Parwanipur-Dry Port road had affected work as a number of electricity poles needed to be relocated. 

As the ICP will remain open 24/7 and requires an uninterrupted supply of power, the approval of NEA headquarters is required. 

He said that an Indian contractor building the ICP had brought a transformer for the ICP last year. It was tested at the NEA’s lab in Hetauda. “Some problems were detected in the transformer, and I have informed headquarters about it,” he said, adding that the equipment would be installed within a week after it gives the go-ahead. “In the meantime, we are planning to supply electricity to the ICP from an industrial feeder,” he said. 

The ICP is expected to facilitate trade between Nepal and India and other countries. The ICP on the Indian side was completed last year. Indian authorities have opened a road linking Patna and Birgunj. They have pledged to have the ICPs on either side of the border up and running as soon as construction on the Nepal side is completed.

Nepal and India signed an accord in 2005 to build a string of ICPs straddling the border at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. 

India has spent around IRs860 million to build the infrastructure in Birgunj. The ICP consists of 22 buildings and roads, yards and other infrastructure. It was slated to be completed in October 2013.