A 269 meter high dam has been proposed on the Koshi river. In which a total of 3300 megawatts of electricity will be generated. Out of the total 15.99 million hectares of land to be irrigated by this project, 5.46 million hectares will be in Nepal and the rest in India. In addition, flood control and water transport issues have also been mentioned.
It has become possible to operate water transport from Chatara in Nepal to Kurusela in India using Koshi water. In Kursela, the Koshi River joins the Ganga River in India. From where the waterway is being operated by India.
Although the benefits of the Koshi High Dam have been discussed, there has been little debate about the environmental impact and social impact. In the past, waterways were a priority for Nepal. Nepal has advanced the study of Koshi High Dam with the intention of giving India access to the sea through waterways. Despite initial discussions between Nepal and India on waterways, the issue has not been raised since the 8th meeting in New Delhi in 2008. It is important to understand why Nepal’s priority waterways have been left out of the joint meeting. Of course, India has been reluctant to give waterway access to Nepal since the 1992 meeting, citing various reasons.
India’s reluctance seems natural as waterways need to be assured of ample water, especially during the winter. In the first meeting on Nepal-India waterways held in Kathmandu in 2018 BS, India had pointed out that more water was needed in Kosi for the operation of Kosi waterways. As there is a river carrying a lot of sand every year, even if a waterway is built in Koshi, sand has to be extracted periodically. Which will be financially expensive. In addition, India has withdrawn from the Barcelona Convention in 1921, which required landlocked nations to have unrestricted access to the sea. Therefore, past experience shows that India is unlikely to agree to operate the Koshi waterway. It is doubtful that Nepal will be able to use the route smoothly as it has to pass through Indian territory even if it is operated by consensus.
It is not possible for Nepal to be more comfortable with waterways at a time when it is difficult for Nepal to travel by international routes. India is unlikely to assist in the construction of the Koshi River. But there are many power generation projects in Koshi river. Similarly, Nepal is moving towards self-reliance for hydropower generation. After the completion of the projects currently under construction, it is seen that it will be strengthened in terms of energy collection. Hydropower projects are a priority for Nepal.