Navin Shakya

Navin Shakya

Mugu PRoR Projects

Upper Mugu Karnali (306 MW) and Namlan Khola (135 MW) are two peaking run-of-river hydropower projects proposed for the Mugu Karnali river corridor in the Mugu district of the Karnali Province. The former will utilize the Mugu Karnali River, while the latter will tap into the Namlan River, a major tributary of the Mugu Karnali.

Gamgadhi, the district’s headquarters, is the closest town to these sites. It’s accessible from Kathmandu in three days by road, two days from Surkhet (the provincial capital), and Nepalgunj. The single-lane Karnali Highway, stretching from Surkhet to Nagma, suffers from neglect and incomplete extensions, making travel challenging. The 90 km road from Mugu to Nagma is subject to weather conditions, with improvements underway. The downstream project’s planned powerhouse is about 20 km from Gamgadhi. Alternatively, the site is a day’s journey, including a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, followed by a 40-minute flight to Rara Airport, which is 15 km from Gamgadhi.

Local micro-hydropower stations electrify the headworks (Pulu) and powerhouse (Lumsa) of Upper Mugu Karnali, and the powerhouse (Tyar Bagar) of Namlan Khola. These sites are connected by GSM and CDMA networks provided by Nepal Telecom. A fair-weather road reaches Chhaila, 5 km past Upper Mugu Karnali’s powerhouse, with plans to extend it to Pulu, the administrative center of Mugum Karmarong Rural Municipality and a local marketplace offering eateries and homestays, along with a police station.

Both projects have received a technical assistance grant from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for assessing their technical, environmental, and financial feasibility. Tractebel Engineering GmbH of Germany is spearheading the detailed engineering and impact studies for both initiatives.