KATHMANDU: Guided by the idea of moving fast with the implementation of large development projects, the then government announced 17 transformational projects as National Pride Projects (NPPs). Later seven projects were added to the list. Now the number has reached 25. As the number of NPPs goes up, progress in their implementation has not been something that makes anyone happy.
The then government led by Baburam Bhattarai in the fiscal year 2011/12 took the decision to designate economically significant large-scale projects as the NPPs gave priority to accelerating the pace of implementation. According to the National Planning Commission, four projects in the financial year 2013/14 and one each in the financial years 2018/19, 2019/20, and 2020/21 were added to the list. Although the government announced projects of national pride 11 years ago, giving special importance to the large projects under construction and those about to be constructed, none of them have been completed so far except four.
Only the 456-megawatt Upper Tamakosi hydropower project has been completed and come into operation. It is not yet sure when the 750 MW West Seti, included in the list of projects of national pride, will go into construction. The situation at Nijgadh International airport is facing the same fate.
Upper Tamakosi, Gautam Buddh International Airport, Pokhara Regional International Airport, and Melamchi Water Supply Project are among the projects included in the NPPs list that have been completed.
The infrastructure projects of national pride that have been completed have also been completed with cost and time overruns. When the construction of Upper Tamakosi was completed, the estimated cost increased
from Rs 35.2 billion to about Rs 85 billion. Gautam Buddh International Airport was also not completed on time or within budget.
When this airport came into operation, the total cost was around Rs 32 billion. Even the Pokhara International Airport could not be completed within the stipulated cost, which has increased to Rs 28 billion. According to the NPC, the Bheri Babai Irrigation Project, whose
construction started in the fiscal year 1988/89, is yet to be completed. This project, which has been under construction for 35 years, is scheduled to be completed in
the financial year 2025/26. Due to the extension of the construction period of the project, the cost has
skyrocketed. The initial cost of this project was Rs 2.8 billion. Now, this cost has increased to Rs 18.9 billion. This is 559.83 percent more than the initially estimated cost.
Similarly, the initial cost of the East-West Electric Railway (Rail, Metro Rail, and Monorail Development Project), which started in the financial year 2008/09 was estimated at Rs 70.6 billion. However, now its cost has increased to Rs 900.55 billion. For this project, which is targeted to be completed by 2029/30, the work has not yet progressed completely. The construction of 945 km of the railway has not been completed.
According to the NPC, by the financial year 2021/22, the initial cost of the national pride project was Rs 1.4 trillion, but now it has increased to Rs 2.59 trillion. Which is 148 percent of the initial cost.
The NPPs, which have been promoted with special priority, are not progressing on time, so their cost is increasing.