ASINGAPORE-BASED FIRM HAS pledged to spend US$700M dollars to construct a 300MW hydroelectric project in Western Nepal.

Elysee Frontiere president Sylvain Leveque signed an agreement on 17 October 2001 for the construction of the Upper Karnali project, 575km west of Kathmandu. The project is due to be completed in July 2008.

Elysee Frontiere is a joint company of France, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland and the US. It is making a sizable capital investment in Nepal to help its economy in the western parts, generate employment and strengthen democracy and human rights, according to Leveque.

Under the agreement, the company will give 30% of the power production free of charge to the Nepal Electricity Board, to which the plant will be turned over after 30 years.

Profits from the sale of power will be used for local projects, including soil conservation, schools and health services. According to Leveque the completion of the power plant will also allow the planned construction of cement and chemical fertiliser factories that would employ 35,000 people.