Agitating workers at the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project in Dolkha district brought construction to a standstill on Friday to press their demand for a stake in the 456 MW plant.
Around 850 workers laid down their tools as they intensified their movement for shares in the project as have been allocated to the employees of the institutions financing it.
Sonam Dorje Sherpa, president of the Nepal Electricity, Painter, Plumber and Construction Workers Union, said that the workers wanted shares allocated to them in the manner set aside for the employees of the funding institutions.
Meanwhile, Nepali workers hired by the contracting company Sino Hydro Company have barred its Chinese workers from going to work. The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project has said that it is not possible to allocate shares as demanded by the workers since there is no such legal provision.
Around 600 of the agitating workers are from Sino Hydro Bureau 11 who are engaged in constructing the dam and tunnel at Lamabagar while 250 are from Sino Hydro Bureau 6 engaged in building the underground powerhouse at Gongar village.
The project has allotted shares to locals of Dolkha district, depositors at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and employees of the organizations that are developing and financing the project.
On February 12, the project made the largest share offering in the country’s history by floating 36 million shares worth Rs3.6 billion.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is the key developer of the project while the financiers are the EPF, Nepal Telecom, Citizens Investment Trust and Rastriya Beema Sansthan.
The shares in the national pride project have a base value of Rs100 apiece. The Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) had given the go-ahead to issue them in the first week of January.
The NEA will have a 41 percent stake in the company, NT 6 percent and CIT and Beema Sansthan 2 percent each. Dolkha locals will get 10 percent of the shares. The locals were allocated 10.59 million shares worth Rs1.05 billion.
Similarly, 1.52 million shares have been earmarked for EPF employees, 304,992 shares for CIT employees, 914,976 shares for NT staff, 304,992 shares for Beema Sansthan employees and 4,066,560 shares for NEA employees. The ordinary shares cannot be traded for a period of three years.
Meanwhile, locals around Singati, the project affected area, have also intensified their protest demanding more shares. They blocked the project’s vehicle on Friday. They have demanded that they be provided shares from the portion set aside for the public too besides the 10 percent stock allocated to them.