Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Nepal’s electricity to force India to kneel

Some Nepali dream of bringing India to her knees by simply switching off supply, after she becomes dependent on Nepal’s electricity! Their idea is for Nepal to export electricity to India to make her dependent on Nepal. There are others that attribute Bhutan’s “prosperity” to her export of electricity to India!

India becoming dependent on Nepal
The first school of thought believe that in the way India almost succeeded to force Nepal to her knees by imposing 6-month long blockade in 2015, in the wake of massive earthquake, Nepal too can turn the table on India by using electricity. Wickedly noble thought! Just switch it off to force India to kneel. From juvenile perspective this sounds plausible.

In the aftermath of Indian blockade on Nepal from 1988, the then Nepal’s Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai did succeed to have India lift the blockade in 1990 by figuratively falling on his knees in Delhi. He even declared Nepal’s rivers common. Had he not been defeated in the general election, he would have concluded a treaty with India stipulating as such!

In this context, prime minister KP Oli turned out to be an exception, since he refused even to visit India till the blockade was lifted.

Indian fear psychosis
Not so surprisingly it is true that Indian rulers are apprehensive that if she were to become dependent on Nepal, she could be in trouble. Due to this fear psychosis she continues to exert control over structures built in sovereign Nepal as exemplified by barrages built on Koshi and Gandaki rivers.

People are ignorant of the fact that late king Birendra cancelled Karnali Chisapani storage multipurpose project (10,800 MW) after he was informed of Indian intention of deploying Indian security force in the project. Jagat Mehta, former Indian external affairs secretary has written that “Stray suggestions such that Karnali would be of such vital importance for India that it might have to be protected by Indian security forces only deepened the apprehensions that cooperation with India could jeopardize Nepal’s sovereignty” in his paper included in the book titled “India-Nepal Relations – The Challenge Ahead”, published by Observer Research Foundation in 2004.

Security of hydropower project
In this backdrop, Nepal will not be in control of electricity supply to India. Rather, India will deploy her security force in projects that export electricity to her, thereby compromising Nepal’s sovereignty. Strangely, Nepal’s current federal MP Radheshyam Adhikari had opined in January 2010 that India can propose to deploy her own security force to protect her investment and he didn’t deem such proposal unnatural, in an article published in a vernacular weekly named “Yo Sata”. It is indeed strange and surprising that he sees no problem in compromising Nepal’s sovereignty, independence and nationality.
Let’s take a close look Arun 3, under development by Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN). Its foundation was recently laid jointly by two PMs of Nepal and India online. Using above logic, it is possible that Indian security force will be deployed to protect Indian investment in this project.

In any case, full authority to decide as to when to generate electricity, how much to generate, whether to export or not, etc. will be vested in the project owner. Even if India doesn’t deploy her security force in it, government of Nepal cannot interfere in these decisions. Even in the projects that produce power for Nepal’s own consumption like Khimti, Bhote Koshi, etc. the decision as to how much to produce and when to do so are made by the owner. Nepal government has no authority to interfere. Except during emergencies, government cannot interfere in private businesses.

Power Purchase Agreement
Those with infantile dream forcing India to kneel don’t comprehend the mechanism of project implementation. A project cannot be implemented without obtaining generation license, condition precedents of which are signing of power purchase agreement (PPA) with electricity evacuator and achievement of financial closure. Once PPA is signed, the project is bound to supply electricity to the buyer as specified by PPA and failure to do so amounts to serious breach of contract amounting to default that could lead to eventual auction of the project. If something as disastrous happens, it will destroy Nepal’s image internationally.

Bhutan’s prosperity
Those enamoured of Bhutan model are unaware of main features of so-called “Bhutan model”. They are belabouring under mistaken impression that Bhutan implements export-oriented projects. Articles 8 and 9 respectively of agreements signed between Bhutan and India for development of Chukha and Tala projects clearly state that these projects export only surplus electricity after meeting Bhutan’s own needs.

Whereas, power development agreements (PDAs) related to Arun 3 and Upper Karnali state that these are export-oriented projects and only 12% and 21.9% electricity respectively is given to Nepal free of cost. These projects are not for internal consumption of Nepal, not designed to export surplus electricity. What adds insult to injury is the provision that even free energy to Nepal is to be exported.

Bhutan treats electricity as input of production and of the electricity consumed in Bhutan 80% is consumed by industries. Whereas, in Nepal only 40% of electricity consumed is used by industries. One should not lose sight of the fact that consumption of one unit of electricity can result in value addition by 86 US cents (equivalent to Rs 90 at current exchange rate) by multiplier effect coming into force. Hence, Bhutan became prosperous by using electricity in industries rather than by exporting.

Another reason behind Bhutan’s prosperity is the fact that these projects, built with 60% Indian grant and 40% soft loan, are owned by Royal Government of Bhutan. Therefore, all profit earned by these projects go into Bhutanese government treasury. However, it is not true in case of, for example Arun 3. All profit will be monopolized by SJVN. Nepal government could have shared the profit by way of income tax. But this project is entitled to 100% income tax exemption in first 10 years and 50% in following 5 years. Nepal’s fate will be limited to salivating at the quanta of profit such projects earn and repatriate.

Nepal will receive neither electricity, nor profit.

Electricity for Nepal
Some suffer from illusion that construction of export-oriented project will make electricity available in Nepal. Consumption of electricity in Nepal and export are mutually exclusive. Electricity will be available where the electricity is exported by these projects.

Bhutan has already achieved 100 per cent electrification, while it is claimed that 60 per cent have access to electricity in Nepal now and it will increase to 100 per cent in 5 years. The tragedy is that electricity may be accessible to 60 per cent but being unable to afford the cost of connection and utility bill many are forced to live in darkness.
Such darkness can only be dispelled by setting up industries where the electricity is produced to generate employment. No employment, no source of income to enable to afford electricity.

Mitigate trade deficit
Specifically looking at salient features of Arun 3, people with pipedream of bringing India to her knees also say that if Arun 3 exports 3,139 GWh electricity (total generation 4,019 GWh minus 880 GWh free to Nepal) at Rs 5/kWh, Nepal will receive Rs 15.69 billion/year. This is incorrect. As electricity exporter is Indian company and importer too will be Indian/foreigner, such payments will not even pass through Nepal.

Recently, MP Binod Chaudhary (Nepal’s sole multibillionaire) commenting on budget for next fiscal year in parliament reiterated the need to export electricity to mitigate trade deficit. He is not alone in believing as such. As explained above, export of electricity by project developed with foreign investment will not mitigate trade deficit effectively It can only happen with projects that are fully financed from sources within Nepal (for both equity and debt).

It can also be understood by comparing with commodity export: exporter would receive payment in Nepal through banking system and gets incorporated in current account of Nepal’s treasury impacting both trade and payment statistics. In case of exporting electricity from project developed with foreign investment, Nepal’s banking system will not see a rupee of the payment for exported electricity.

Risk of Nepal having to kneel
NEA has announced that there is no load shedding throughout Nepal, sometime back. That was deemed to be some sort of achievement. But almost 50 per cent electricity is being imported from India. The scenario will continue even when Arun 3 is commissioned which is export-oriented and Nepal will have to continue importing till projects are implemented exclusively for consumption in Nepal.

Nepal’s need for electricity, including latent demand, is huge. Former energy minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi said that Nepal needs 5,000 MW. The requirement will be more if transportation is electrified. In 10 years Nepal can easily consume 10,000 MW. If double-digit economic growth is the ambition, even 20,000 MW will be like a drop in the ocean.

If Nepal continues on this trajectory (allowing to implement export-oriented projects and importing to meet Nepal’s need), Nepal will be in a tragicomic situation to have to import electricity of, for example Arun 3 via India. Insult will be added to the injury when Nepal is forced to import same electricity at higher price than it was exported at.

Another facet of this equation is that India would be in a position to turn off electricity supply anytime it is unhappy, thereby being able to force Nepal to kneel. Like the plan to export electricity in early 90s transforming into Nepal importing from India, plan to force India to bring to her knees could boomerang into Nepal having to kneel. Policy makers need to make course correction to avoid falling into such a trap, which will not only be ridiculous, but ludicrous too.

Therefore, allowing to develop projects as export-oriented amounts to shooting at one’s foot. Prudent course is to develop them for Nepal’s consumption and export any surplus.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha

Published in People's Review of June 14, 2018

Sunday, May 27, 2018

भारतलाई घुँडा टेकाउन बिजुली

एउटा तप्का नेपालीको भ्रम छ, नेपालबाट आयातीत बिजुलीमाथि भारतलाई निर्भर भए नेपालले बिजुली आपूर्ति बन्द गरिदिनासाथ भारत घुँडा टेक्न बाध्य हुन्छ ! अर्को तप्का ठान्छ भुटानले भारतलाई बिजुली निकासी गरेकोले समृद्ध भयो !

भारतको नेपालमाथि परनिर्भरता
जसरी नेपाललाई भारतले २०७२ सालमा नाकाबन्दी गरेर झण्डै घुँडा टेक्ने अवस्था श्रृजना ग¥यो, त्यसै गरेर नेपालले बिजुली आपूर्ति बन्द गरेर घुँडा टेक्न बाध्य पार्न सक्छ । नेपालमा निर्मित आयोजनाबाट मन परेको बेला आपूर्ति ग¥यो, रिस उठे आपूर्ति बन्द ग¥यो । बालसुलभ तरिकाबाट हेर्दा यो सम्भव परिदृष्य हो ।

स्मरणिय छ, २०४५ साल देखि भारतले गरेको नाकाबन्दी हटाउन २०४७ साल असारमा नेपालका तत्कालिन प्रधानमन्त्री कृष्णप्रसाद भट्टराईले दिल्ली गएर घुंडा टेके । यस क्रममा उनले नेपालका नदीनाला साझा पनि भने ! धन्न तिनी आमनिर्वाचनमा पराजित भएकोले नेपालका नदीनाला साझा भनेर सन्धी गर्न पाएनन् ।

यस सन्दर्भमा वर्तमान प्रधानमन्त्री ओली अपवाद ठहरे, २०७२ सालको महाभुकम्प लगत्तै भारतले लगाएको नाकाबन्दी सामु घुंडा टेकेनन्, नाकाबन्दी नहटाएसम्म भारतभ्रमणमा नजाने अडान लिए ।

भारतीय शासकमा भय
रमाइलो के छ भने भारतीय शासकमा पनि भय छ कि नेपालमाथि निर्भर भइएमा नेपालले आपूर्ति बन्द गरेर अप्ठेरो पार्न सक्छ । यहि कारणले गर्दा भारतले सार्वभौम नेपालको भूभागमा आयोजनाहरु निर्माण गर्दा आफ्नै नियन्त्रणमा राख्छ । कोशी तथा गंडकी नदीहरुमा निर्मित बाँधहरुमा अहिले सम्म पनि भारतकै नियन्त्रण छ, जुन कुरा यो तप्काको मानिसको बिस्मृतिमा परेकोछ । यिनीहरु अनभिज्ञ छन् कि ७० को दशकमा भारतको सहयोगमा जलाशययुक्त १० हजार ८ सय मेगावाटको कर्णाली चिसापानी आयोजना निर्माण प्रारम्भ हुनै लागेको बेलामा भारतले उक्त आयोजनाको सुरक्षाको जिम्मा आफैलाई दिनुपर्ने माग गरेपछि तत्कालिन राजा वीरेन्द्रले आयोजना नै रद्द गरेका थिए । यस सम्बन्धमा भारतका तत्कालिन बिदेश सचिव जगत मेहताले एक पुस्तकमा प्रकाशित आफ्नो लेखमा सार्वजनिक गरेकाछन् ।

आयोजनाको सुरक्षा
यस परिवेशमा भारतमा आपूर्ति हुने बिजुली नियन्त्रण गर्ने अवस्थामा नेपाल हुने छैन । उल्टो नेपालले यस्ता आयोजना निर्माण गर्न दिने अवस्थामा नेपालको सार्वभौमसत्तामाथि आँच आउने गरेर भारतीय सुरक्षाकर्मी नेपालमा परिचालित गर्नेछ । यस सन्दर्भमा स्मरणिय छ, सांसद राधेश्याम अधिकारीले “यो साता” नामक साप्ताहिकको जनवरी ५–११, २०१० को अंकमा “कर्णाली आयोजनामा माओबादी नीति” शिर्षकको लेखमा “भारतले आफ्नो लगानी सुरक्षित गर्न आवश्यक सुरक्षा आफैले गर्नुपर्ने प्रस्ताव पेश गर्नसक्छ । शक्ति राष्ट्रहरुद्वारा यस्ता प्रस्ताव राख्नुलाई अस्वाभाविक भन्ने गरिंदैन” भन्ने धारणा व्यक्त गरेकाछन् । यस तप्काका व्यक्तिहरु भारतको यस्तो मांग अस्वाभाविक ठान्दैनन् र सुरक्षा गर्न भारतलाई दिए हुन्छ भन्छन् । यसले नेपालको सार्वभौमसत्ता, स्वाधीनता तथा राष्ट्रियतामा आंच आउनेमा यो तप्कालाई कुनै चिन्ता छैन, जुन आश्चर्यजनक छ ।

अझ नेपाल र भारतका प्रधानमन्त्रीद्वयले अनलाइन शिलान्यास गरेको भारतीय लगानीमा निर्माण हुने निकासीमूलक अरुण तेश्रो आयोजना नियालौं । यो आयोजनाबाट कहिले, कति उत्पादन गर्ने, निकासी गर्ने कि नगर्ने भन्ने निर्णय गर्ने अधिकार ती आयोजनाका प्रवद्र्धकमा हुन्छ, नेपाल सरकारमा हैन । आयोजनाको सुरक्षाको व्यवस्था भारतले नगरे नै पनि यस्ता आयोजनाबाट के कति उत्पादन गर्ने र कहिले कसरी निकासी गर्ने भन्ने सम्बन्धमा नेपाल सरकारले हस्तक्षेप गर्न मिल्दैन । गहिरिएर हेर्ने हो भने अहिले बिद्यमान खिम्ती, भोटेकोशी जस्ता आयोजनाको बिजुली नेपालको आन्तरिक खपतको लागि भएतापनि यी आयोजनाहरुबाट कहिले कति उत्पादन गर्ने, आपूर्ति गर्ने कि नगर्ने भन्ने निर्णय ती आयोजनाका प्रवद्र्धकहरुले गर्दै आएकाछन्, नेपाल सरकारले हस्तक्षेप गर्न मिल्दैन । संकटकालमा बाहेक कुनै पनि निजी क्षेत्रको व्यवसायमा सरकारले हस्तक्षेप गर्न सकिन्न ।

विद्युत खरिद सम्झौता

भारतले घुंडा टेक्ने दिवास्वप्न देख्नेहरु के बुझ्दैनन् भने आयोजना संचालनार्थ निर्माण गर्नु अघि प्रवद्र्धकले उत्पादन अनुमतिपत्र लिनुपर्छ जसकोलागि विद्युत खरिद सम्झौता सम्पन्न गरेर वित्तीय व्यवस्था गर्नुपर्छ । एक पटक विद्युत खरिद सम्झौता सम्पन्न भएपछि आयोजनाले तोकिए अनुरुप बिजुली खरिदकर्तालाई आपूर्ति गर्नुपर्छ । यसो गर्न नसकेमा आयोजनाले गम्भिर गल्ती गरेको मानिन्छ र ऋण लगानी गर्ने संस्थाले आयोजना नै लिलामसम्म गर्न सक्छ । यस्तो परिदृष्य देखा परेमा नेपालकै छवी ध्वस्त हुन्छ । त्यसैले भारतलाई घुंडा टेकाउने भन्दै यस्ता आयोजनाबाट हुने बिजुली आपूर्ति अवरुद्ध गर्न सकिन्न ।

भुटानको समृद्धि
अधिकांश भुटान मोडेलको चौकाचौंधमा परेकाहरु त्यो मोडेलका धेरै विशेषताबारे अनभिज्ञ छन् । यिनीहरुमा के भ्रम छ भने भुटानले पनि आयोजनाहरु निकासीमूलकको रुपमा कार्यान्वयन गर्छ । चुखा तथा ताला आयोजना निर्माण गर्न भुटान र भारत बीच सम्पन्न सम्झौताहरुका क्रमसः धारा ८ र ९ अनुसार भुटानको आवश्यकता पूर्ति गरेर बाँकी रहने बिजुली मात्र भारत निकासी गर्छ । त्यस बिपरित अरुण ३ र माथिल्लो कर्णाली आयोजना कार्यान्वयन गर्न सम्पन्न सम्झौता अनुसार क्रमसः १२ प्रतिशत र २१.९ प्रतिशत मात्र नेपालले निशुल्क उर्जाको रुपमा पाउंछ । नेपालमा खपत भएर बाँकी मात्र निकासी गरिने हैन । घाउमा नुनचुक दले जस्तै नेपालले पाउने भनिएको निशुल्क उर्जापनि निकासी नै गर्ने व्यवस्था छ ।

भुटानीहरुले विद्युतीय उर्जा पनि उत्पादन सामग्री हो भन्ने यथार्थ आत्मसात गरेकाछन् र भुटानमा खपत हुने बिजुलीको ८० प्रतिशत उद्योगहरुले उपभोग गर्छन् भने नेपालमा यसको अनुपात ४० प्रतिशत पुगेकोछैन । स्मरण रहोस्, उद्योगमा १ युनिट बिजुली खपत भएमा ८६ अमेरिकि सेन्ट (वर्तमान सटही दरमा ९१ रुपैया) बराबर मूल्य अभिवृद्धि हुन्छ, जुनबाट भुटान लाभान्वित भइरहेकोछ, भइरहने सुनिश्चित गरेकोछ । भुटानको समृद्ध भएको कारण यो हो, न कि निकासी ।

यस अतिरिक्त भुटान कसरी समृद्ध भयो भने भारतको ६० प्रतिशत अनुदान र ४० प्रतिशत सस्तो ब्याज दरमा वित्तीय व्यवस्था गरेर निर्मित यी आयोजनाहरुको स्वामित्व भुटान सरकारमा छ र जे जति मुनाफा हुन्छ, त्यो भुटानको राज्यकोषमा थपिन्छ । तर निर्माणाधीन अरुण ३ भारतीय सरकारको स्वामित्वको सतलज जलविद्युत निगमको स्वामित्वमा रहन्छ र यसबाट हुने सम्पूर्ण मुनाफा त्यसै कम्पनीको हुन्छ । नेपालले आयकर सम्म पाउन सक्नेमा पहिलो १० वर्ष पूर्ण छूट र त्यसपछिको ५ वर्ष ५० प्रतिशत छूट हुने हुनाले नेपालले त प्रवद्र्धकले कुम्ल्याएको मुनाफा हेर्दै ¥याल चुहाउंदै बस्नेमात्र हो ।

नेपालले न बिजुली पाउंछ, न मुनाफा नै ।

बिजुलीले उज्यालो
कतिपय भने यस्ता विद्युत आयोजना निर्माण भएर नेपाल उज्यालो हुने सपना देख्छन्, लोडसेडिंगबाट सांच्चिकै उन्मुक्ति पाउने अपेक्षा गर्छन । तर निकासी गरिएको बिजुलीले त पैठारी गर्ने देशमा उज्यालो छर्छ नेपालमा हैन भन्ने कुरा बुझ्दैनन् ।

अझ भुटानमा शतप्रतिशत विद्युतिकरण भैसकेको छ भने नेपालमा ६० प्रतिशत पुगेको दावी गरिन्छ र ५ वर्ष भित्र शतप्रतिशत जनताको बिजुलीमा पहुंच पुग्ने बताइएको छ, जुन राम्रो हो । तर कतिपय नेपालीको पहुंचमा बिजुली अहिले पनि भएतापनि (घरमाथिबाट बिजुलीको तार जान्छ वा नजिकै बिजुलीको लट्ठा छ) तिनको घर अँध्यारै । घरसम्म बिजुलीको तार तान्न र मिटर किन्न गच्छेले पुग्दैन र न हुन्छ विद्युत महशूल तिर्ने हैसियत ।

जबसम्म बिजुली जहाँ उत्पादन हुन्छ त्यहिं उद्योगधन्दा संचालन गरेर स्थानिय बासिन्दालाई रोजगारी दिइन्न, तिनको घरमा बिजुली वत्ति वाल्नु “ल्हासामा सुन छ, मेरो कान बुच्चै”को बिरोधाभासपूर्ण स्थितिले निरन्तरता पाउंछ ।

बालसुलभ बौद्धिकता

भारतलाई घुँडा टेकाउने सपना देख्ने बुद्धिजीवि हिसाब गर्दै भन्छ, अरुण तेश्रोबाट नेपाललाई वार्षिक १५ अर्ब रुपैया आम्दानि हुन्छ (४ अर्ब युनिट बिजुली उत्पादन हुनेमा नेपालले निशुल्क पाउने ८८ करोड युनिट कटाएर ३ अर्ब १४ करोड युनिट बिजुली निकासी गर्ने हुनाले), युनिटको ५ रुपैयाको दरले । जुन सत्य होइन । बिजुली किन्ने भारतले र बेच्ने कम्पनी भारतीय हुनाले भुक्तानी भारतमा हुन्छ र त्यस्तो रकम नेपाल प्रवेशै गर्दैन, नेपालले आम्दानी गर्ने भनेको त धेरै परको कुरा ।

यस प्रसंगमा जोड्नु पर्छ लब्धप्रतिष्ठित अर्थशास्त्रीहरुले बिजुली निकासी गरेर व्यापार घाटा घट्छ भनेको । माथि भनिए झै अरुण ३ को १५ अर्ब रुपैयाको बिजुली निकासी भएपनि उक्त रकमले नेपाल प्रवेश पाउंदैन भने यसले व्यापार घाटा घटाएको ठहर्ने कि नठहर्ने । नेपालबाट बिभिन्न वस्तु निकासी गरिंदा भुक्तानी नेपालको ब्याँकिंग प्रणालीमा आउँछ र व्यापार तथा शोधनानन्तर हिसाबमा समाविष्ट हुन्छ । बिजुली निकासी गर्दा भने भुक्तानीले नेपाल प्रवेशै नगरेपछि यसको प्रभाव व्यापार र शोधनानन्तर हिसाबमा हुन्न । अनि कसरी व्यापार घाटा घट्छ ?

नेपालले घुंडा टेक्नु पर्ने खतरा
अहिले लोडसेडिंग समाप्त भयो भनिन्छ, झण्डै ५० प्रतिशत बिजुली भारतबाट पैठारी गरेर । तर नेपालमा अरुण ३ जस्ता निकासीमूलक आयोजनाहरु निर्माण सम्पन्न भएपछि पनि नेपालको आवश्यकता पैठारी गरेरै पूर्ति गरिनुपर्ने हुन्छ, नेपालकै उपभोगकोलागि भनेर आयोजना निर्माण नगरिएसम्म ।

बिजुलीको आवश्यकता उत्तरोत्तर बढ्दोछ । टोपबहादुर रायमाझी उर्जा मन्त्री हुंदा भनेका थिए नेपाललाई ५ हजार मेगावाट बिजुली आवश्यक छ । यातायात विद्युतिकरण गरेर पेट्रोलियम पदार्थ विस्थापन गर्न अझ धेरै चाहिन्छ । १० वर्ष पछि सजिलै १० हजार मेगावाट बिजुली नेपाललाई आवश्यक हुन्छ, २ अंके आर्थिक वृद्धि हासिल नहुंदै । आर्थिक वृद्धि २ अंक पु¥याउन त त्यसको दोब्बर बिजुली चाहिन्छ ।

तर नेपालले निकासीमूलक आयोजनाहरु निर्माण गरिरहे नेपालको आफ्नो आवश्यकता पूर्ति गर्न पैठारी गर्नुपर्ने हुन्छ । हास्यास्पद तब हुन्छ, जब नेपालबाटै निकासी गरिएको बिजुली नेपालले भारतबाट आयात गर्न परोस् । त्यसमा पनि नेपालबाट सस्तो दरमा निकासी हुने र त्यहि बिजुली नेपालले भारतबाट महंगोमा आयाता गर्दा डाडुमा पानी तताएर मर्ने स्थिति त सृजना हुन्छ नै ।

तर आफ्नै देशमा उत्पादित बिजुली भारतबाट किन्न परेको अवस्थामा भारतले चाहेमा आपूर्ति अवरुद्ध गर्न सक्छ र यस्तो अवस्थामा नेपालले पो घुंडा टेक्नु पर्ने अवस्था आउंछ !
त्यसैले नेपालले निकासीमूलक बनाएर आयोजना निर्माण गर्न दिनु आत्मघाती हो भने निकासीमूलक नबाइकन आफूले उपभोग गरेर बचेउब्रेको वा बढी भएको बिजुली निकासी गर्नु बुद्धिमत्तापूर्ण हुन्छ ।
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
२०७५ जेठ १४ गतेको नागरिकमा प्रकाशित

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Neo-colonization of Arun 3

Indian Prime Minister visited Nepal last week and laid foundation stone of Arun 3 hydropower project, 900 MW, jointly with Nepal’s PM, “online”. PM Oli has been stressing ad nauseam that he is not a capitulationist. But implementation of Arun 3 project is manifestation of just that: capitulationism in him.

Export-oriented project
It is expected to generate 4,018 GWh energy and under section 11.16.1 of Project Development Agreement (PDA), signed between GoN and the developer of project, Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), Nepal is to receive 21.9% energy (about 879 GWh) free of cost and 3,138 GWh to be exported.

There is provision for export of free energy in section 11.16.4 and 11.16.5, while there is complete silence with regard to consumption of the free energy in Nepal. Hence, it is clear that whatever electricity is generated by it, all of it will be exported.

Nepal is yet to achieve self-reliant energy security, which can only be achieved by setting up energy intensive industries, displacing imported petroleum products by electrification of transportation and so on. Achievement of energy security and export of power generated as such is mutually exclusive. Nor does Nepal have electricity surplus, to be contemplating its export.

Most industries of the country are located in Province 1 and its need for electricity is highest. Unfortunately, this project will generate electricity in that very province, but that very province will be deprived from electricity generated by it.

Multiplier effect
According to a study report prepared by Nextant under USAID-SARI/E program “the industrial sector average value addition per unit of electricity use is approximately 0.86 US$/kWh”. Therefore, by exporting electricity generated by this project Nepal will be deprived of Rs 9,141 billion in value addition in 25-year period. Such an economic phenomenon of value addition is known to be caused by the multiplier effect created by electricity consumed.

For lack of employment in Nepal, Nepali youth are migrating abroad, which could have been mitigated by industrialization in Nepal, but for unavailability of energy. Lack of industrialization has negative multiplier effect on Nepal’s economy: rampant unemployment, fatal dependency on import, balance of payment and trade deficit, treasury deprived from potential source of revenue, etc.

On the other hand India will use electricity from this project to set up industries and youth from Nepal will get employed there as laborer, coolie, etc. and get exploited.

In this backdrop it is sheer foolhardy to deprive Nepal from multiplier effect by exporting electricity from Aurn 3.

Resource Colonization
Resource colonization has become a rare phenomenon in modern days. However, innovative ways are being devised for colonization of resources. An example is export of primary commodities at dirt-cheap price, which manifests in planned export of electricity from Arun 3, thereby depriving Nepal’s economy from much needed electricity – a modern source of energy – and perpetuating dependency on fossil fuel in the meantime. It will be silly to oppose export of electricity if Nepal’s demand, including latent demand to displace energy source ranging from fossil fuel (modern source of energy) to biomass (both unclean) for electricity is met to saturation level. Unfortunately, it will be sheer foolishness to assert as such at the moment.

Mirage of Benefits to Nepal
Protagonists of implementation of this project salivate at the potential benefits that Nepal supposedly stands to benefit, ranging from 197 MW free electricity worth Rs 155 billion to financial benefits of Rs 107 billion in royalties, Rs 77 billion as income tax and 9 billion as custom duty and VAT; a handsome total of Rs 348 billion within 25 years of “concession period”. Let’s examine the validity of such claim.

Free energy
Nepal is slated to receive 21.9% as free energy, claimed to be 197 MW by Investment Board of Nepal (IBN). However, it should not be forgotten that as a run of the river project, its generation in dry season would be around 300 MW only. Therefore, free energy to Nepal would be around 70 MW in dry season of up to 8 months and 197 MW in rainy season that lasts about 4 months.

Since, it is a peaking run of the river project, it can generate at installed capacity even in dry season. But for lack of water it would generate at full capacity only a few hours a day in dry season, whereas in wet season it can generate at full capacity, 24 hours a day. Effectively, free energy from it will be equivalent to 70 MW only from peaking run of the river scheme.

IBN has estimated that revenue from free energy will be Rs 155 billion, which is not correct. It will amount to Rs 110 billion only.

Rs 107 billion from royalty
IBN has estimated that Nepal would earn Rs 107 billion as royalties from it, which too is incorrect. According to section 11.26 of PDA, capacity royalty is Rs 400/kW for first fifteen year and Rs 1,800/kW from 16th year through 25th year. At this rate Nepal would earn Rs 12 billion in capacity royalty over 25 years. Similarly, rate of energy royalty in first 15 years is 7.5% and 12% from 16th through 25th year. Thus, energy royalty in 25 years will be Rs 19 billion if electricity is exported at Rs 5/kWh. Total revenue to GoN from royalties in 25 years comes to Rs 31 billion. The export rate will have to be Rs 25/kWh in order for Nepal to earn Rs 107 billion in royalties. Which is well neigh impossible!

It is possible that IBN clubbed even export tax revenue. But under section 9.3 of PDA, the rate of export tax is only 0.005% and revenue therefrom comes to Rs 20 million only in 25 years.

Income tax
Estimated cost of this project is Rs 104 billion and debt to equity ratio is 75:25. If average rate of net profit before tax is 40%, Nepal will receive only Rs 26 billion over 25 years. Because under section 3.2.4 of PDA, the project is exempt from income tax fully for first 10 years and it is entitled to 50% rebate from 11th through 15th year.
Rather, Nepal’s treasury stands to lose Rs 26 billion due to above-mentioned income tax exemption and rebate.

VAT and custom duty
IBN claim that Nepal would receive Rs 9 billion from VAT and custom duties is also incorrect. Pursuant to section 12(7) of Electricity Act, the project is exempt from VAT on import of plant, machinery and equipment and these attract only 1% custom duty. Due to these exemptions Nepal’s treasury will be deprived of estimated Rs 14 billion.

Whereas, in accordance with section 9.2 of PDA, the project is entitled to grant of Rs 5 million per MW; totaling Rs 4.5 billion. IBN has not disclosed this facility to public, among others.

The project is also entitled to 50% custom duty exemption on import of cement, steel bar, etc. It is expected to cost Rs 5 billion to Nepal’s treasury.

Benefit and opportunity cost
Total benefits that accrue to Nepal as analyzed above totals Rs 176 billion only, even including Rs 9 billion from custom duty and VAT.

However, IBN is silent with regard to direct costs and opportunity costs to Nepal’s economy. Opportunity costs are (1) Rs 26 billion in income tax exemption, (2) Rs 14 billion in VAT exemption and rebate on custom duty on plant machinery and equipment import and (3) Rs 5 billion due to custom duty exemption on cement and steel bar. Additionally, Nepal has to pay Rs 4.5 billion to the project for having paid VAT.

In sum Nepal stands to receive Rs 176 billion while the costs to Nepal is Rs 49 billion. Net estimated benefit to Nepal is Rs 126 billion only. Not whopping Rs 348 billion!

Devolution of ownership to GoN
Proponents of this project take solace in the fact that its ownership will devolve to Nepal after 25 years. It is comparable to the practice rampant in western Nepal under which a family gives away a daughter to the lender against loan taken, till repayment of the loan; known as Kamlari practice. The girl will practically spend her entire life working for the loan shark and will return to family in old age. Electro-mechanical equipment of this project too will be useless in 25 years. Besides, Nepal needs electricity right now to achieve self-reliant energy security.

Some experts take consolation in the provision of section 11.17.2 of PDA under which Nepal can buy up to 10% electricity. However, it will amount to only 70 MW in wet season and around 30 MW in dry season. Almost like a drop in the ocean in view of Nepal’s need.

From Arun 3 to Arun 3
Some people are still lamenting the fact that the World Bank cancelled 201 MW Arun 3 in August 1995. But that cancellation was in Nepal’s interest. Because the estimated cost was Rs 560/MW (cost overrun could have pushed it to Rs 800/MW), very exorbitant compared to the cost of this one: Rs 110/MW. Had that been implemented, brokers, peddlers, politicos and bureaucrats would have skimmed off amongst themselves Rs 400/MW.

Besides, the World Bank had imposed a covenant under which Nepal was proscribed from undertaking any project larger than 10 MW. Therefore, due to cancellation of that project Nepal succeeded to build Modi (14 MW), Kali Gandaki A (144 MW) and Middle Marsyangdi (70 MW) under NEA. Similarly, private sector implemented Khimti (60 MW), Bhote Koshi (45 MW), Chilime (22 MW) and Mai Khola (22 MW). In this manner due to cancelation of 201 MW project, 377 MW got added to Nepal’s system.

It is not to say that Arun 3 should be cancelled once more. Ground reality needs to be understood. Nepal doesn’t benefit from this project by Rs 348 billion in 25 years. Net benefit is only Rs 127 billion. Whereas Nepal would be deprived from benefit from multiplier effect of Rs 9,141 billion. Therefore, Arun 3 needs to be liberated from resource colonization.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha

Published in People’s Review on May 17, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

अरुण ३ को औपनिबेसिक दोहन

अधिकांश नेपाली उत्साहित छन्, निकासीमूलक ९ सय मेगावाट जडित क्षमताको अरुण ३ आयोजनाको शिलान्यास हुन लागेकोमा । तर सुन्निएकोलाई मोटाएको ठाने पछि पछुताउनु पर्छ । त्यसैले कुरा गहनरुपमा बुझ्न वान्छनिय छ ।

निकासीमूलक आयोजना
यसबाट करिब ४ अर्ब २ करोड युनिट बिजुली उत्पादन हुन्छ । आयोजना विकास सम्झौता (पीडीए)को दफा ११.१६.१ मा नेपालले २१.९ प्रतिशत (करिब ८८ करोड युनिट) बिजुली निशुल्क पाउने प्रावधान छ । ३ अर्व १४ करोड युनिट निर्यात गरिन्छ ।

पीडीएको दफा ११.१६.४ र ११.१६.५ मा निशुल्क उर्जा निकासी गर्ने व्यवस्था छ भने नेपाल भित्रै यस्तो बिजुली खपत गर्ने सम्बन्धमा पीडीए मौन । प्रष्ट छ, यसबाट उत्पादित सम्पूर्ण बिजुली निकासी गरिन्छ ।
नेपालले आत्मनिर्भर उर्जा सुरक्षा हासिल गरेको छैन । यसको लागि उर्जा सघन उद्योगहरुको स्थापनामात्र नगरी यातायात विद्युतिकरण गरेर आयातित पेट्रोलियम पदार्थ विस्थापन गरिनुपर्छ । तर नेपालमा बन्न लागेको यो आयोजनाको बिजुली निकासी गरेर नेपालले आत्मनिर्भर उर्जा सुरक्षा हासिल गर्ने मृगमिरिचिका मात्र हो ।

प्रादेशिक हिसाबले प्रदेश १ मा सबभन्दा धेरै उद्योगधन्दा छन् र बिजुलीको आवश्यकता पनि तद्अनुरुप बढी । त्यहि प्रदेशमा निर्माण भएतापनि त्यो प्रदेश समेत यसको बिजुलीबाट बंचित हुनेछ । यो भनेको प्रदेश १ को औपनिबेसिक दोहन हो, बिद्युत उपभोग गर्नबाट बिमुख पारेर भारत निकासी !

अर्थतन्त्रमा मूल्य अभिबृद्धि
अमेरिकि सहयोग नियोगको एक अध्ययन प्रतिबेदन अनुसार १ युनिट बिजुली खपत भएमा ८६ अमेरिकि सेन्ट (रु ९१) बराबर अर्थतन्त्रमा मूल्य अभिबृद्धि हुन्छ । तर यो आयोजनाको बिजुली निकासी गरिने भएकोले नेपालको अर्थतन्त्र वार्षिक ३ खर्ब ६५ अर्बले मूल्य अभिबृद्धि हुनबाट बंचित हुन्छ । लगानी बोर्डले यो आयोजनाबाट नेपाललाई हुने तथाकथित लाभको आकलन गर्दा २५ वर्षे आँकडा दिएको पृष्ठभूमिमा यो आयोजनाको बिजुली निकासी गरिंदा २५ वर्षमा ९१ खर्ब ४१ अर्ब रुपैयाले multiplier effect काे कारणले हुने मूल्य अभिबृद्धिबाट नेपालको अर्थतन्त्र बंचित हुन्छ । यो पाटोलाई उपेक्षा गरेर हौसिनेहरुले पछि पछुताउने अवसर पाउने छैनन् ।
विद्युतीय उर्जाको अभावमा नेपालमा औद्योगिकरण नभएकोले बेरोजगार युवा बिदेश पलायन हुन्छन् । आयातीत पेट्रोलियम पदार्थमाथिको निर्भरताले देशको अर्थतन्त्रको रुग्ण छ, व्यापार/शोधनान्तर घाटा चुलिंदोछ । खाडी र पूर्वी एशियाली देशहरुमा रोजगारीको लागि नजानेहरु भारत जान्छन् । यो आयोजनाको बिजुली पनि उपभोग गरेर भारतले औद्योगिकरण गर्छ र भारतको अर्थतन्त्रमा मूल्य अभिबृद्धि हुन्छ । अनि नेपाली युवा भारतमा दरबान, चौकिदार, कुल्ली, मजदूर बनेर शोषित हुन्छन् ।

यसै कारण सामान्य राजनैतिक–अर्थशास्त्रीय भाषामा प्राकृतिक श्रोतको यस्तो दोहनलाई औपनिबेसिक दोहन भनिन्छ । उर्जा, कच्चा पदार्थ र युवा जनशक्ती निकासी गर्दा हुने परिणिति ।

नेपाललाई आयोजनाबाट लाभ
लगानी बोर्डले यो आयोजना निर्माण भए नेपाल २५ वर्षमा जम्मा ३ खर्ब ४८ अर्बले लाभान्वित हुन्छ भनेको छ । यो आकलन कत्तिको यथार्थपरक छ हेरौं ।

निशुल्क उर्जा
लगानी बोर्डले निशुल्क उर्जा २१.९ प्रतिशतबापत १ सय ९७ मेगावाट पाउने उल्लेख गरेको पूर्ण सत्य होइन । यो आयोजनाले सुख्खायाममा पूर्ण क्षमतामा उत्पादन गर्दैन, पानीको अभावमा । सुख्खायाममा ३ सय मेगावाट जति उत्पादन हुन्छ र त्यतिखेर नेपालले पाउने ७० मेगावाट भन्दा कम हुन्छ । यो आयोजनामा सानो जलाशय पनि निर्माण गरिएर सुख्खायाममा पनि पूर्ण क्षमतामा उत्पादन हुनसक्छ । तर वर्षातमा चौबिसै घण्टा पूर्ण क्षमतामा उत्पादन हुन्छ भने सुख्खायाममा पूर्ण क्षमतामा केहि घण्टामात्र उत्पादन हुन्छ, जुन ७० मेगावाटले चौबिसै घण्टा उत्पादन गर्ने बराबर हुन्छ । वस्तुतः नेपालले १ सय ९७ मेगावाट पूर्ण क्षमतामा चौबिसै घण्टा र बाह्रै महिना पाउंछ भन्नु भ्रामक हो ।

लगानी बोर्डले निशुल्क उर्जाबाट १ खर्व ५५ अर्ब रुपैया आम्दानी हुने आकलन गरेको पनि मिलेको छैन, करिब १ खर्ब १० अर्ब मात्र हुन्छ ।

१ खर्ब ७ अर्ब रुपैया रोयल्टी
लगानी बोर्डले गरेको २५ वर्षमा नेपालले पाउने रोयल्टीको हिसाब पनि मिल्दैन । पीडीएको दफा ११.२६ अनुसार पहिलो १५ वर्ष प्रति किलोवाट ४ सय रुपैया क्षमता रोयल्टी र साह्रौं वर्ष देखि प्रति किलोवाट १८ सयको दरले २५ वर्षमा साढे १२ अर्ब रुपैया क्षमता रोयल्टी प्राप्त हुन्छ । यस्तै उर्जा रोयल्टीको दर पहिलो १५ वर्ष साढे ७ प्रतिशत र साह्रौं वर्ष देखि १२ प्रतिशत हो । बिजुली ५ रुपैयामा निकासी गरिए २५ वर्षमा उर्जा रोयल्टीबापत झण्डै १९ अर्व रुपैया जति प्राप्त हुन्छ । यसरी २५ वर्षमा पाइने क्षमता र उर्जा रोयल्टी जम्मा ३१ अर्ब रुपैया मात्र हुन्छ, १ खर्ब ७ अर्ब होइन । प्रति युनिट बिजुली २५ रुपैयामा निकासी गरिएमात्र लगानी बोर्डको हिसाब मिल्छ । तर भारतले कुनैपनि आयोजनाको बिजुली २५ रुपैया प्रति युनिटमा किन्ने सम्भावना छैन ।

लगानी बोर्डले निकासी करको रकम समेत यसमा समाबेश गरेको हुन सक्छ, तैपनि मिल्दैन । किनभने पीडीएमा निकासी करको दर ०.००५ प्रतिशत मात्र तोकिएको छ र यो दरमा वार्षिक निकासी कर ८ लाख रुपैया जति हुन्छ र २५ वर्षमा २ करोड रुपैयामात्र ।

आयकर ७७ अर्ब

१ खर्ब ४ अर्ब रुपैया लागत अनुमान गरिएको यो आयोजनामा ७५ प्रतिशत ऋण र २५ प्रतिशत स्वपूंजी लगानी गरिन्छ । स्वपूंजीको औसत ४० प्रतिशत नै खूद मुनाफा आर्जन गरेमा नेपालले २५ वर्षमा २६ अर्ब रुपैया आयकर पाउंछ । किनभने पीडीएको दफा ३.२.४ अनुसार पहिलो १० वर्ष आयकर पूर्णरुपमा छूट हुन्छ भने एघारौं वर्ष देखि पन्ध्रौं वर्षसम्म आयकरमा ५० प्रतिशत छूट छ । आयकर ७७ अर्ब रुपैया हुन स्वपूंजीमा औसत १ सय प्रतिशत भन्दा बढी खूद मुनाफा हुनुपर्छ, जुन सम्भव छैन ।

बरु पहिलो १० वर्ष शतप्रतिशत छूट र एघारौं वर्ष देखि पन्ध्रौं वर्षसम्म ५० प्रतिशत छूटले गर्दा नेपालले आयकर बापत २५ वर्षमा २६ अर्ब रुपैया गुमाउंछ ।

मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर र भंसार
राज्यले मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर र भंसारबापत ९ अर्ब रुपैया आम्दानी गर्ने लगानी बोर्डको आकलन मिल्दैन । किनभने विद्युत ऐनको दफा १२(७) अनुसार प्लान्ट, मेशिनरी, उपकरण आदि पैठारी गर्दा मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर पूर्णतः छूट हुन्छ भने भंसार महसूल १ प्रतिशत मात्र लाग्छ । यसको कारण राज्यमाथि बरु १४ अर्ब रुपैया भार पर्ने अनुमान छ ।
पीडीएको दफा ९.२ मा आयोजनाका प्रवर्द्धकले मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर तिरेबापत अनुदान स्वरुप प्रति मेगावाट ५० लाख रुपैया पाउने व्यवस्था भएकोले जम्मा ४ अर्ब ५० करोड रुपैया उक्त आयोजनाले पाउंछ, जुन कुरा लगानी बोर्डले उल्लेख गर्न आवश्यक देखेन ।

लगानी बोर्डले उल्लेख गर्न आवश्यक नठानेको अर्को सुविधा हो सिमेन्ट, छड आदिको आयातमा ५० प्रतिशत भंसार छूट, जसको भार राज्यको कोषमा ५ अर्ब रुपैया पर्ने अनुमान छ ।

पाउने, गुम्ने
माथि विश्लेषण गरिए झै नेपालले प्राप्त गर्ने १ खर्ब ७६ अर्ब रुपैया मात्र हुन्छ, भंसार र मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर ९ अर्ब समेत ।

तर नेपालले उक्त आयोजनालाई दिने बिभिन्न सुविधा बारे भने लगानी बोर्डको मौनता शंकास्पद छ । माथि उल्लेख गरिए झै (१) आयकर छूट बापत २६ अर्ब रुपैया, (२) मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर र भंसार छूटको कारण १४ अर्ब रुपैया, (३) सिमेन्ट, छड आदिको आयातमा छूटले गर्दा ५ अर्ब रुपैया र (४) आयोजनाले मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर तिरेबापत अनुदान स्वरुप पाउने ४ अर्ब ५० करोड रुपैया समेत गरेर राज्यले साढे ४९ अर्ब रुपैया गुमाउंछ ।
आयोजनाबाट नेपालले पाउने १ खर्ब ७६ अर्ब र गुमाउने साढे ४९ अर्ब हुनाले नेपालले खूद पाउने १ खर्ब २६ अर्ब ५० करोड रुपैया मात्र हो । ३ खर्ब ४८ अर्ब रुपैया हैन ।

यसरी वस्तुगतरुपमा विश्लेषण गर्नेलाई विकासबिरोधिको बिल्ला भिराउंदै के भनिन्छ भने २५ वर्ष पछि आयोजना नेपालको भइहाल्छ । आर्थिक कारणले आफूले पाल्ने हैसियत नभएर छोरीलाई साहुको घरमा कमलरी बन्न पठाए जस्तै हो यो भनाइ ! उत्पादनशील समयमा पराइको सेवामा लगाएर दशकौं पछि फिर्ता लिने ! पहिलो, नेपाललाई बिजुलीको आवश्यकता नभएकोले निकासी गरिने होइन । दोश्रो २५ वर्ष पछि उक्त आयोजनाको इलेक्ट्रो–मेकानिकल मेशिनरी, उपकरण आदि थोत्रिएर कामै नलाग्ने हुन्छ । नेपाललाई यो आयोजनाको बिजुलीको आवश्यकता तत्काल अहिले छ भने किन निकासी गर्ने ?

हुन त कतिपय उर्जा विशेषज्ञले नेपालले यो आयोजनाको बिजुली किन्न सक्ने विकल्प औंल्याउंछन् । तर पीडीएको दफा ११.१७.२ अनुसार ९० प्रतिशत बिजुली निकासी गरेर बचेकोमात्र नेपालले किन्छु भन्न पाउने व्यवस्था छः वर्षात ४ महिना ७० मेगावाट र बाँकी समय ३० मेगावाट जति, जुन नेपालको आवश्यकताको तुलनामा हात्तिको मुखमा जिरा हो ।

अरुण ३ देखि अरुण ३ सम्म
यस सन्दर्भमा कतिपयले सन् १९९५ मा विश्व ब्याँकले २ सय १ मेगावाट जडित क्षमता भएको अरुण ३ रद्द गरेकोमा दुख मनाउने गरेको पाइन्छ । यस पंक्तिकार भने उक्त आयोजना खारेजी नेपालको स्वार्थ अनुकूल देख्छ । यसको अनुमानित प्रति मेगावाट लागत साढे ११ करोड रुपैया हो भने त्यसको ५६ करोड रुपैया । त्यो आयोजना सम्पन्न हुंदा ८० करोड पुग्थ्यो । खारेज नभएको भए दलाल, भ्रष्टाचारीहरुले १ मेगावाटमा झण्डै ४० करोड रुपैया भन्दा बढी रकम भागशान्ती जय नेपाल गर्थे र त्यसको भार उपभोक्ताले बोक्नु पथ्र्यो ।

उक्त खारेजी अर्को कारणले पनि नेपालको हितमा थियो । विश्व ब्यांकको शर्त थियो त्यो आयोजनाको निर्माण नसकिएसम्म १० मेगावाट भन्दा ठूला अन्य आयोजना निर्माण गर्न नपाउने । अर्थात उक्त आयोजना कार्यान्वयनमा गएको भए विद्युत प्राधिकरणकोे मोदी (१४ मेगावाट), काली गंडकी (१४४) र मध्यमस्याङ्गदी (७०) तथा निजी क्षेत्रका खिम्ती (६०), भोटेकोशी (४५), चिलिमे (२२) र माई खोला (२२) निर्माण हुने थिएन । यसरी २ सय १ मेगावाट क्षमताको अरुण ३ त्यतिबेला रद्द भएकोले नेपालमा ३ सय ७८ मेगावाट थपियो ।

यो लेखको उद्देश्य अरुण ३ फेरि पनि रद्द गरिनुपर्छ भन्ने हैन । लगानी बोर्डले भने झै नेपाल २५ वर्षमा ३ खर्ब ४८ अर्ब ले लाभान्वित हुने नभएर खूद १ खर्ब २७ अर्ब रुपैया मात्रले लाभान्वित हुन्छ भने २५ वर्षको अवधिमा ९१ खर्ब ४१ अर्ब रुपैयाले mगतिष्उष्भिच भााभअत कारणले मूल्य अभिबृद्धि हुनबाट नेपालको अर्थतन्त्र बंचित हुन्छ । यो त विशुद्ध घाटाको व्यापार भयो । त्यसकारण अरुण ३ को औपनिबेसिक दोहनबाट मुक्त हुने गरेर निर्माण गरिनुपर्छ ।

२०७५ बैशाख २५ गतेको नागरिकमा प्रकाशित

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Neocolonial Path to “Power”

Portugal is the first country that established colonies in modern history (in 15th century), followed by Spain, France, England, Netherland, etc. Even today there are 61 colonies, including Puerto Rico (US colony). Strangely, in the latest plebiscite held on June 11, 2017, only 1.5% Puerto Ricans voted in favor of independence; voter turnout was 23%.

Besides, to satiate their imperialistic tendencies and expand empires, colonies were established with the aim of, inter alia, exploiting resources of colonies to be used for the prosperity of the “empires”. Colonial powers extracted and exploited resources recklessly and at infinitesimal cost (using cheap or slave/conscripted labor of the colonies) and sold such resources at huge profit or used for industrialization and development of the respective colonialists. Basically, colonial powers would appropriate primary commodities of the colonies.

Resource Colonization
Looking back, a huge quantum of natural resources of colonies were extracted and siphoned off by colonizers, basically squeezing economies of the colonies. For example, economist Utsa Patnaik opines that Britain drained more than 9 trillion sterling pounds from India over 173 years, equivalent to present day US $ 12.38 trillion (Global Research, February 2018).

Nowadays there are fewer instances of colonial powers using colonial approach of extraction and exploitation of natural resource. In other words, resource colonization has become a rare phenomenon. However, innovative ways are being devised for colonization of resources. One example is export of primary commodities at dirt-cheap rate from small neighboring countries to big neighbors.

Examples: Arun 3, UKP, etc.
Nepal has issued license for export-oriented hydropower projects like Arun 3, Upper Karnali, etc. These would, obviously, export electricity – a primary commodity – depriving Nepal’s economy from much needed source of energy; perpetuating dependency on fossil fuel – a modern source of energy. It will be silly to oppose export of electricity if Nepal’s demand, including latent demand to switch energy source from fossil fuel and firewood, for electricity has been met to saturation level. Unfortunately, it cannot be asserted as electricity as a source of energy comprises only 3.32% and renewables 3.03%, while traditional sources of energy like firewood, agro and animal residue comprise about 77% and imported modern source of energy like petroleum product and coal about 17%.

However, unfortunately, Nepal is becoming a victim of neocolonial approach; the problem is more of self-inflicted nature. Because, Nepali hydrocrats are happy to tread neocolonial path by allowing implementation of export-oriented hydropower projects to a monopsony market. The hydrocrats don’t tire of salivating at the potential prosperity that export of electricity would afford by replicating the so called “Bhutan” model; completely forgetting that Bhutan is on neo-colonial path: harnessing her water resource for export of electricity to India.

Bhutan is Source of Power for India

Export of electricity, a primary commodity, also amounts to resource colonization. Bhutan, a protectorate of India (there is no point in beating around the bush about it), is supposedly becoming prosperous by exporting electricity to India. It is crystal clear that Bhutan is not an independent country comprising sovereign people, especially regarding defense and foreign affairs.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the people in Bhutan aren’t proud of this geopolitical fact of life; nor care to be reminded of it. In their resentment with it, with which they are destined to live till some distant future, they even try to equate themselves to Nepal thereby attempting to pull Nepal (a sovereign and independent country) down a notch or two to their own level. There is no point in being upset with them when people in Nepal, professing to be patriots, go about advocating that Nepal must metamorphose into another Bhutan by replicating Bhutan model! Bhutanese people must be awestruck to learn of people in Nepal wanting to stoop to their level – demonstrating their willingness to cede Nepal’s sovereignty and independence, which Bhutan would give anything to achieve. The protagonists of replicating Bhutan model in Nepal need to wake up from their slumber induced by the warmth of wet bed and remember that once the mattress cools off it will become very uncomfortable as is being amply demonstrated by what is transpiring in Bhutan.

However, as Bhutan plans to be the source “power” for India, Bhutanese people must feel magnanimous. For a country as tiny as Bhutan, being able to “power” India – the giant neighbor must be a matter of great pride.

Wield “Power” over India
The proponents of Bhutan model in Nepal are going about saying that Nepal can wield immense power (not political power) over India if Nepal were to export power in huge quantum, as the power-switch will be in Nepal’s control: just turn off the switch to bring India down to her knees! What a silly dream!

It is beyond the comprehension of such naïve people that India will easily circumvent such possibility by “demanding” to deploy her own security personnel in such project(s). Most people are not aware that 10,800 MW Karnali Chisapani project was shelved in 1970s by late king Birendra upon learning of Indian plan to deploy Indian security force in the project (are recounted by Jagat S. Mehta former secretary of ministry of external affairs of India, in his paper on “India-Nepal Relations: A Victim of Politics” published in the book titled India-Nepal Relations: The Challenge Ahead in 1996). Clearly, Nepal will not be in a position to bring India to her knees by controlling power-switch, because Indian security personnel will control such device.

Moreover, in the case of implementation of export-oriented projects by foreign investors, the power-switch will be controlled by the proponents of the respective projects, not by functionaries of GoN. Examples of Upper Karnali and Arun 3, under “development” by GMR and SJVN respectively suffice. The power-switches of these power plants, if built will be controlled by these corporates. These naïve people need to remember that Koshi and Gandak barrages built in sovereign territory of Nepal are under control of GoI.

Power is Input for Economic Activity

But gems of truth are coming from Bhutan itself. Kuensel online of July 22, 2009, writing under the heading “Power-profit home advantage”, has stated “contrary to existing notions, a new study says it is economically more beneficial for Bhutan to supply power to its industries than export to India. The study, by the ministry of economic affairs (MoEA) and the royal audit authority, compares revenue foregone by the government in not exporting subsidized electricity against the money gained as taxes from 15 major industries, which represent 95 percent of industrial power consumption. Here, in spite of the subsidy, the net benefit is about Nu 64 million. In the second model, it compares cost of production and distribution of electricity to the tax revenue gained from industries. Here again, there is a benefit of Nu 152.8 million over and above cost of production.”

“Electricity is the only plentiful raw material, which can be used by our industries to compete with external competitors by value adding on the reasonably priced power,” said the then economic affairs minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk. Minister Wangchuk was echoing ground reality obtaining in Nepal.

The then economic affairs secretary Dasho Sonam Tshering is reported to have said, “Value addition on both electricity and local raw materials, like in the case of Penden and Dungsam cement plants, will be more sustainable in the long run, even if electricity prices change in the region”. He even is reported to have alluded to Norway, which “also used its hydropower to initially bankroll its industrial development through power intensive metallurgy and fertilizers”. GoN formulated hydropower policy to open the sector to private sector with the help of Norwegian experts, but failed to learn from the example of Norway.

Nextant USAID-SARI/Energy study conducted in 2003 has concluded that average economic value addition of electricity in the industry is 84 US¢ kWh. In this backdrop it is sheer foolishness to dream of prosperity by exporting electricity, while same, costing about 8 US¢, can result in economic value addition by about 10 times. This is why this scribe calls export of electricity reverse resource colonization.

Power for Domestic Consumption
On the other hand export-oriented development of hydropower in Bhutan has resulted in different negative externality. Under the headline “Power crisis looms large over Bhutan?” The Economic Times has reported, on June 16, 2008 that “A severe power shortage may hit Bhutan in view of new industries readying up to kick start operations even as India is banking on borrowing electricity from the Himalayan country by 2020.” It goes on to add that “Bhutan may talk of thousands of megawatts of power in the next few years but according to Bhutan Power Corporation Limited (BPCL) officials, the country will face a deficit in that period because a lot of upcoming industries will need power to operate.” BPCL executive director K B Wakhley has been reported to have said, “if all the industries in Pasakha and Phuentsholing come on stream, there will be a shortage of power," said.

Like ostrich, hydrocrats of Nepal are hiding their collective heads in the sand, but it will not make the potential disaster vanish and, therefore, people need to review this modality of hydropower development not only in Bhutan but also in Nepal.

Financially Unsustainable for India
Due to the unique geopolitical relationship between India and Bhutan three projects so far built in Bhutan, aggregating a capacity of 1,416 MW, are owned by Bhutan but funded by India through 60% grant and 40% soft loan touted as the ‘inter-government model’. However, Indian government has discovered that this is not a sustainable model. India has already reached financing fatigue after financing 1,416 MW under 60/40 model.

Reporting under the heading “India Bhutan hydropower cooperation fraying at the edges” Beth Walker reported on October 4, 2016 (Third Pole) that “60% grant component and 40% loan, have been reversed with loan component now comprising 60-70%” and adds that “hydropower has contributed to a steep rise in Bhutan’s debts, and the report notes Bhutan is ‘among 14 other countries that are fast heading towards a debt crisis.’”

In Nepal’s case, in the first place India has not offered such financing modality to Nepal. The simple reason is: Bhutan is an Indian protectorate. Secondly, financing a few thousand megawatts under such a model for about half a million people may be simpler, but replicating it for Nepal would be impossibility. Because for a population of 28 million, India will have to finance 52,864 MW under this modality (60% grant 40% soft loan), which would cost about US $ 53 billion at the rate of US $ 1,000/kW.

Paucity of Market in Nepal

Proponents of Bhutan model assert that Nepal lacks requisite market for her electricity generation potential of 43,000 MW. What such naïve people don’t forget is that Nepal’s per capita electricity consumption in 2014 was 139 kWh and even to reach the level of South Korea, where it is 10,497 kWh per capita, Nepal would need 85,598 MW according to a presentation made by current MD of NEA on February 22, 2018. Lest it be forgotten that economic status of Nepal and South Korea was at about same level about 4 decades ago and now Nepal youth vie for employment there, not the other way round.

Smarter Bhutanese
Under Article 8 and Article 9 of Chukha and Tala agreements respectively, Bhutan government sells only the surplus power from these projects, (over and above that required for use in Bhutan), although both of these projects were financed by government of India (GoI) with 60% as grant and 40% loan. Whereas, projects are designated as export-oriented in Nepal, depriving Nepal from much needed energy.

ADB report states that Bhutan has already achieved 100% electrification in 2015, whereas only about 50% of the people in Nepal have access to electricity. Similarly, industries in Bhutan consume 80% of the domestic power consumption while it is only about 36% in Nepal. Exporting electricity will make sense only after Nepal succeeds to replicate Bhutan’s profile of electricity consumption. At the moment most industries in Nepal are operating at 50% capacity and no new industry established for lack of electricity supply.

Most importantly, ownership of projects built with Indian funding is vested in Royal Government of Bhutan. It means that any and all profit earned by these projects enrich treasury of Bhutan. However, Bhutan model has been prostituted (with due respect to sensitivity) in Nepal, as GoN will not own the export-oriented projects; there will be flight of profit earned by such projects. This is the secret of Bhutan achieving prosperity that Nepal’s hydrocrats don’t seem to comprehend/appreciate.

Export of primary commodity like electricity, which is essential to “power” Nepal’s economy, including to displace imported fossil fuel and highly pollutant firewood, is tantamount to reverse colonization of resource, in the hope of forcing India to her knees that is naiveté at it best. Such people ignore the fact that input of electricity has potential to add value to the economy by ten times the cost input. People that salivating at Bhutan model, fail to comprehend that it has become unsustainable for India and she has already revised the model (70% loan, 30% grant), just to ensure that Bhutan doesn’t breach her special relation with India. Besides, India has not shown interest in replicating the Bhutan model in Nepal.

Hence, it is high time for the hydrocracy in Nepal to abandon naiveté and grow out of their shortsighted juvenile vision for Nepal’s hydropower development. Lest it becomes necessary to have to point out that the emperor isn’t actually wearing any gorgeous royal gown, as his subjects are led to believe; rather he is wearing nothing (just in birthday suit)! It is a recurring phenomenon and is applicable to all neo-emperors of decade old republic of Nepal too and their loyal naïve subjects.

Nepal should abandon neocolonial path before it is too late even to repent. Nepal’s main objective should be self-reliant energy security including to displace unclean/un-renewable energy sources ranging from fossil fuel to firewood. Bhutan model, the real one, has its merits and can be adopted, on the condition that Nepal doesn’t have to become an Indian protectorate.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA

Published in People's Review on March 8, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Electricity Act in Nepal’s Interest

After Government of Nepal (GoN) registered Electricity Bill 2008 in parliament, it was tabled for discussion only in 2011 and MPs were asked to register amendment proposals if the Bill required any amendment. The response was overwhelming: there were one hundred forty-two (142) proposals for amendments. In the normal course both the Bill tabled by GoN and amendment proposals registered by MPs should have been thoroughly discussed in the parliament and Electricity Act should have been promulgated after incorporating amendment proposals accepted by the parliament. But GoN chose not to go through with the process and abandoned the Bill resulting in its “stillbirth”.

This scribe too had prepared 44-point amendment proposal and succeeded to get it registered in the parliament by MPs representing Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, CPN (Maoist), Rashtriya Jana Morcha and Rashtriya Prajatantra Party in order to ensure that the legislation is in Nepal’s interest. The 142 amendment proposals are inclusive of these 44-point amendment proposal drafted by this scribe.

The Bill tabled by GoN was not in Nepal’s national interest and GoN became irked with the attempt to ensure that it is in Nepal’s interest bafflingly and chose not to have the legislation promulgated at all. Apparently the Bill was based on a draft prepared by an Indian organization.

In late 1980s, wishing to invest in Khimti project, Norwegians studied relevant laws of Nepal and found it wanting. Then a team of Norwegian legal experts came to Nepal on the auspices of Norwegian government and studied relevant Nepal law in force, after which the team submitted its report to GoN including a draft Khimti Act, which would have been instrumental in encouraging Norwegians to invest in the said Khimti project. The establishment of the time (politicos and bureaucrats) felt that it is not appropriate to promulgate one specific Act for one project and promulgated Electricity Act 1992 instead, based in draft made for Khimti project but after some tinkering and tampering with it. This Act was said to be based on Water Resources Policy, 1992.
Within 2 decades of coming into force of Electricity Act, about 450 MW hydropower was added to the system; public sector and private sector contributing almost equally. In 8 decades from 1911 (when first power plant in Pharping was commissioned) less than 240 MW was added to the system. It is clear that this Act succeeded to attract private sector investment in hydropower generation, which was exclusive domain of public sector till promulgation of Electricity Act.

Improvement in Electricity Act
This scribe was assigned a 3-month study to suggest improvements in the Electricity Act from the perspective of private investors in early 1998. After 3 months, he presented 4 working papers in a workshop in June 1998, the report based of which was furnished to GoN through FNCCI. GoN effectively thwarted the effort of more than a decade to improve the Act and also to ensure that it is in national interest.

Currently prevalent Electricity Act requires many improvements to ensure that it is in Nepal’s interest. Due to space constraint only a few important points are discussed in this article.

Multidimensional Uses of Water
While contemplating generation of energy from water, it should not be lost sight of the fact that water has multidimensional uses. There are many sources to generate energy, ranging from clean/renewable to unclean/un-renewable. Whereas, there is no alternative to fresh water (e.g. it is not possible to irrigate with saline water which is available aplenty in the world). Multidimensional uses of water are as follows:
• Drinking water and sanitation – by achieving water security, untimely death due to water borne diseases can be reduced, including reduction of expenditure on medicine and medical treatment by half that the country’s economy has to bear;
• Irrigation – to achieve food security by intensive cropping to preclude death by famine and starvation, including substantial mitigation of balance of trade and payment deficit by reducing import of food products;
• Animal husbandry and fishery – to avail nutritious food items and also to mitigate balance of trade and payment deficit to an extent by substituting imports thereof;
• Energy generation – to ensure self reliant energy security (water is required even to generate nuclear energy);
• Recreation – for water based tourism, inter alia rafting;
• Navigation – Nepal can transform into water linked country from landlocked one;
• Water based industries – including export of mineral water; and
• Cultural and traditional uses.

Comprehensive Assessment of Alternatives

In view of the fact that water has multidimensional uses and most of such uses are competitive in nature, conscious decision must be made before deciding to put water to any specific use at any site on any stretch of any river. For this purpose comprehensive assessment of all possible alternative uses must be made prior to deciding to put water to a specific use. In such assessment, possibility of production and use of hydrogen in near future should not be ignored (with further development of technology related to its storage and transportation, hydrogen will soon become affordable), in order to afford an opportunity to Nepal to enter into hydrogen economy.

If the decision is to generate hydropower, possibility of generating peak power by putting up a reservoir should be explored instead of run of the river (RoR), which produce more energy in wet season when demand is low and less in dry season when demand is high resulting in mismatch of supply and demand. It is a well-known fact that peaking power plant produces better quality electricity in higher quantum besides generating lean season augmented flow of fresh water. In this context Upper Karnali and Tamor projects are bad examples.

Moreover, reservoir projects should be made multipurpose, which helps control flood in rainy season in lower riparian areas and generate lean season augmented flow. Budhi Gandaki project is a bad example due to failure to make it multipurpose, which for example would have enabled lower riparian districts of Nepal like Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Bara, etc. to increase cropping intensity with water becoming available in the dry season, leading to prosperity.
In order to ensure that new enactment for the purpose is in Nepal’s interest, it should clearly stipulate that decision to harness any site should be made after making comprehensive assessment of alternatives and should make it mandatory to choose reservoir project, where feasible, which should be implemented as multipurpose project.

Objective of Electricity Generation

Self reliant energy security for Nepal should be the principal objective of electricity generation, including to displace imported fossil fuel, which would help (1) reduce balance of payment and trade deficit, (2) reduce cost of transporting people and goods and (3) reduce environmental pollution. Thus, liberation of Nepal from dependency on imported energy sources should be prime aim of such an enactment.

Self reliant energy security entails availing energy produced in Nepal to all sectors inter alia agriculture, industry, transportation, tourism, health, education, ICT, etc. and for urban, semi-urban kitchens to supplant LPG with electricity and eventually to displace firewood from rural kitchens. Ensuring access to electricity to all people of Nepal should be the prime goal.

Nepal is suffering from high trade deficit due to ever increasing imports and dependency syndrome is gaining stranglehold over the economy. On the one hand, industries are not provided requisite electricity forcing them to operate at around 50% of the capacity. On the other hand, industrialists are not able to start new industries for lack of electric energy. Aim should be to encourage establishment of industries to substitute import and to promote export by supplying ample electricity at affordable rate. It is noteworthy that, at the moment, Kathmanduites are enjoying liberation from load shedding at the cost of industries.
Similarly, electricity in adequate quantum at reasonable rate should be provided to industries that process agricultural produce, herbs, minerals, etc. and for cold storage, factories producing agricultural implements, fertilizer, etc. Energy security cannot be achieved without displacing diesel pumps with electric pumps used for irrigation.

New electricity law can only be in national interest if it succeeds to achieve self-reliant energy security by breaking dependency syndrome on imported sources of energy, including fossil fuel (it will not be possible to cease to be dependent on imports for aviation fuel for obvious reasons, though).

License Procedure
The licensing procedure under prevalent Electricity Act needs to be streamlined as follows:
• No license for electricity generation should be issued if Nepal stands to benefit more by putting water to alternative uses at any particular site of any river;
• License should be issued with an eye on optimization of benefit to Nepal from the watershed and river basin;
• License should not be issued only from the perspective of optimization of installed capacity from available head and flow from engineering perspective only, at the cost of irrigation of additional land in future, in both upstream and dewatered areas. With increase in population, more land will have to be brought under cultivation and cropping intensity will have to be increased, requiring water for irrigation;
• License should be issued on competitive basis in transparent manner to ensure availability of electricity at least cost to nation;
• License should not be issued to applicants without financial capability, including requisite credibility to mobilize debt funding. License should only be issued against bank guarantee covering 10% of the project cost. At the moment, brokers are able to hold licenses to peddle with prospective investors;
• Since ownership of the project devolves to GoN after the license period, design life of the plant needs to be specified to ensure that GoN can operate it without problem for at least a decade after handover and directives regarding construction, repair and maintenance standards have to be issued.

Export of Energy
Even without aiming to displace fossil fuel, Nepal is grappling with energy crisis. Issuing license for export-oriented project in such a backdrop is outright stupid. Therefore, no license should be issued for export-oriented projects till Nepal achieves self-reliant energy security.

If for any special reason, license has to be issued for an export oriented project, it should be subjected to parliamentary ratification as stipulated in Sub-article (1) and 2(d) of Article 279 of present Constitution, which specifies that agreements for division of natural resources and their use should be ratified by the parliament. It should not be forgotten that GoN issuing a license also amounts to an agreement.

In this interdependent world, it is not possible to avoid export and import of energy. It is but logical to export excess energy and import to meet deficit. However, energy should not be exported for profit maximization of the private sector; it should be done in accordance with nation’s need.

Downstream Benefit
Main weakness of prevalent Electricity Act is its silence with regard to sharing benefit of lean augmented flow. Basically it is silent with regard to mechanism for recompense for the cost of negative externalities and sharing benefits of positive externalities. Inundation and involuntary displacement are negative externalities and flood control and lean season augmented flow are positive externalities.

It is unconscionable to give away positive externalities free of cost, as Nepal has to bear huge cost, inter alia opportunity cost in terms of lost agricultural produce and forest product for more than half a century due to submergence of Nepal’s territory. Even Koshi and Gandak treaties have no provision to recompense GoN for such opportunity cost; there is provision to recompense to GoN for lost land revenue only.

Therefore, license for reservoir projects should be issued for the installed capacity with an eye on consumptive use of lean season augmented flow in lower riparian areas of Nepal. If India wishes to receive lean augmented flow, installed capacity of the license can be increased on the condition that she is committed to pay for such benefit. Optimization of Budhi Gandaki at 1,200 MW was a blunder, without receiving any commitment from India to pay for lean season augmented flow.

Conversely, if a project like Budhi Gandaki is to be implemented that allows India to enjoy downstream benefit, parliamentary ratification of it should be made mandatory after negotiating with India as to recompense mechanism for benefits of positive externalities that India would enjoy.

Published in People's Review on February 15, 2018

Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA

Saturday, February 10, 2018

आवश्यकताः नेपालको हित अनुकूल विद्युत ऐन

विद्यमान विद्युत ऐन २०४९ प्रतिस्थापनार्थ विद्युत विधेयक २०६५ संसदमा दर्ता गरिएर छलफलको लागि टेबल भएपछि यसमा संशोधन आवश्यक भएमा सांसदहरुबाट प्रस्ताव आह्वान गरेकोमा १ सय ४२ प्रस्तावहरु दर्ता गरिए । यी छलफलोपरान्त विधेयकमा आवश्यक परिमार्जन गरेर विद्युत ऐन संसदबाट पारित गराउनुको सट्टा गर्भमै तुहाईयो । यस पंक्तिकारले उक्त विधेयकलाई नेपालको हितअनुकूल बनाउन अत्यावश्यक ४४ बुंदे संशोधन प्रस्ताव मस्यौदा बनाएर नेमकिपा, नेकपा माओवादी, राष्ट्रिय जनमोर्चा र राष्ट्रिय प्रजातंत्र पार्टीका केहि सांसदहरुमार्फत संसदमा दर्ता गरिएका प्रस्तावहरु पनि उक्त १ सय ४२ प्रस्तावमा समाबिष्ट थिए ।

स्तम्भित पार्ने कुरा के हो भने उक्त विधेयकलाई राष्ट्रहित अनुकूल बनाउन खोज्दा विधेयकै तुहाईयो ! विधेयक राष्ट्रहित अनुकूल थिएन, संशोधन गरेर राष्ट्रहित अनुकूल बनाउने प्रयास सरकारलाई पाच्य भएन ! उक्त विधेयक एक भारतीय संस्थाले मस्यौदा गरेर ऐनकोरुपमा पारित गर्न सरकारलाई दिईएको भन्ने चर्चा स्मरणिय छ ।

खिम्ती आयोजनाका प्रवद्र्धकले नेपालमा नीतिगत तथा कानुनी व्यवस्थाको अभाव रहेको अनभूति गरेकोले नर्वे सरकारको आर्थिक सहयोगमा नर्वेका कानूनविदहरुको टोलीले नेपाल भ्रमण गरेर अध्ययनोपरान्त खिम्ती आयोजना निर्माणार्थ खिम्ती ऐन नामकरण गरेर एउटा विधेयक मस्यौदा सरकारलाई बुझाएको थियो । तर तत्कालिन सरकारले एउटै आयोजनाकोलागि छुट्टै ऐन बनाउनुको सट्टा त्यहि मस्यौदामा हेरफेर, तोडमरोड गरेर सन् १९९२ मा विद्युत ऐन २०४९ जारी ग¥यो, जलविद्युत नीति २०४९ मा आधारित ।

ऐन कार्यान्वयनमा आएको २ दशकमा ४ सय ५० मेगावाट भन्दा बढी जडित क्षमताका जलविद्युत आयोजनाहरु निर्माण सम्पन्न भएकोमा सार्वजनिक र निजी क्षेत्रको योगदान लगभग बराबर रह्यो । सन् १९११ देखि ८ दशकको अवधिमा २ सय ४० मेगावाट भन्दा कम आयोजनाहरु निर्माण भएको परिप्रेक्ष्यमा उक्त ऐन सफलतापूर्वक कार्यान्वयन भएकोमा शंका छैन ।

विद्युत ऐनमा परिमार्जन
यस पंक्तिकारले ३ महिने अनुसन्धानपश्चात निजी क्षेत्रको दृष्टिकोणमा विद्युत ऐनमा परिमार्जन गर्नुपर्ने बुँदाहरु समेटेर ४ वटा कार्यपत्र सन् १९९८ जुनमा आयोजित गोष्ठीमा प्रस्तुत गरेर एउटा प्रतिवेदन नेपाल उद्योग व्यापार महासंघ मार्फत नेपाल सरकारसमक्ष प्रस्तुत गरेबाट शुरु भएको परिमार्जनको प्रयासले सन् २००८ मा मूतरुप लिएकोमा तुहाईयो ।

बिद्यमान विद्युत ऐनमा धेरै परिमार्जन आवश्यक भएतापनि स्थानाभावको कारण प्रस्तुत लेखमा केहि महत्वपूर्ण बुंदाहरुकोमात्र विवेचना गरिएकोछ ।

जलश्रोतको बहुआयामिक उपयोगहरु
जलविद्युत उत्पादनको कुरा गर्दा नदीमा बग्ने पानीबाट बहुआयामिक लाभ लिन सकिन्छ, विद्युत उत्पादन मात्र होइन भन्ने कुरा बिस्मृतिमा पार्न हुन्न । विद्युत उत्पादनका धेरै वैकल्पिक श्रोतहरु छन्, स्वच्छ र नवीकरणीय देखि अस्वच्छ र गैर नवीकरणीयसम्म । तर पानी, त्यो पनि स्वच्छ पानीको विकल्प छैन । जलबिद्युत उत्पादन बाहेक पानीको बहुआयामिक उपयोगहरु निम्न हुनः

* खानेपानी तथा सरसफाइ — खानेपानी सुरक्षा हासिल भए अकाल मृत्युबाट उन्मुक्तीदेखि देशमा हुने औषधोपचार खर्च आधाभन्दा बढी बचत हुन्छ;
* सिंचाइ — सघन खेतीबाट खाद्य सुरक्षा हासिल भएर अनिकाल तथा भूखमरीबाट हुने मृत्युबाट मुक्तीका साथै खाद्यान्न आयातजनित व्यापार/शोधनान्तर घाटा कम हुन्छ;
* पशु तथा मत्स्यपालन — पोषक खाद्य पदार्थको सर्वसुलभ उपलब्धता तथा पशुपंक्षी तथा माछा आयात घटेर पनि व्यापार÷शोधनान्तर घाटा कम हुन्छ;
* बिद्युत उत्पादन (आणविक उर्जा उत्पादन समेत) — आत्मनिर्भर उर्जा सुरक्षाकोलागि;
* जल पर्यटन — ¥याफ्टींग लगायतकोलागि;
* जल परिवहन — ढुवानिमा लाग्ने उर्जा खपतमा ८५ प्रतिशत बचतबाट लाभान्वित हुन;
* पानीमा आधारित उद्योग — स्वच्छ तथा लवणयुक्त पानीको निकासी लगायत;
* सांस्कृतिक तथा परम्परागत उपयोग ।

विकल्पहरुको व्यापक मूल्यांकन
कुनै पनि नदिको पानीको सदुपयोग गर्नु अघि उपरोक्त उपयोगहरु मध्ये कुन उपयोगबाट जनता समृद्ध तथा देशको अर्थतन्त्र सुदृढ हुन्छ भन्ने कुरा बिचार गरिनुपर्छ । यसकोलागि सम्भाव्य विकल्पहरुको व्यापक मूल्यांकन गरेर निक्र्योल निकालिनुपर्छ । निकट भविष्यमा हाइड्रोजन उत्पादन गरेर हाइड्रोजन अर्थतन्त्रमा नेपालको प्रवेशको सम्भाव्यतालाई पनि दृष्टिगत गरिनुपर्छ ।

जलविद्युत आयोजनै निर्माण गर्ने भए आयोजनास्थल विशेषमा जलाशययुक्त आयोजना बन्नसक्छ भने नदी प्रवाही आयोजना नबनाइ जलाशययुक्त आयोजना नैं निर्माण गर्दा देशको हित हुन्छ । जसबाट बिजुली पनि बढी, त्यो पनि उच्च गुणस्तरको उत्पादन हुनाको अतिरिक्त सुख्खायाममा थप/नियन्त्रित बहुमूल्य पानी उपलब्ध हुन्छ । यो कुरा ऐनमा लाइसेन्स सम्बन्धी व्यवस्थामा स्पष्ट उल्लेख गरिनुपर्छ । यस सन्दर्भमा माथिल्लो कर्णाली र तमोर खराब उदाहरणहरु हुन् ।

जलाशययुक्त आयोजनालाई बहुउद्देश्यीय बनाइनु पर्छ भन्ने व्यवस्था पनि ऐनमा किटानी गरिनुपर्छ । किनभने जलाशययुक्त आयोजनाबाट तल्लो तटीय इलाकामा वर्षातको ४ महिना बाढी नियन्त्रण हुनुको अतिरिक्त पानीको बहुआयामिक उपयोग गर्न सकिन्छ । बुढी गण्डकी आयोजना एउटा उदाहरण हो, जसलाई बहुउद्देश्यीय बनाईएन, नत्र चितवन, नवलपरासी, बारा आदि भेगलाई समृद्ध बनाउन सकिन्थ्यो ।

जलविद्युत उत्पादनको लक्ष्य
जलविद्युत उत्पादनको लक्ष्य आत्मनिर्भर उर्जा सुरक्षा हुनुपर्छ, आयातीत खनिज इन्धनको विस्थापनार्थ यातायातको विद्युतिकरण समेत, जसबाट (१) व्यापार/शोधनान्तर घाटा घट्छ (२) ढुवानीमा लाग्ने उर्जाको लागत तात्विक रुपमा कम हुन्छ र (३) वायू प्रदुषण न्यूनिकरण हुन्छ ।

ऐनको मुख्य लक्ष्य शत प्रतिशत जनताको विद्युतमा पहुंच र नेपाल उर्जामा परनिर्भरताबाट मुक्ती हुनुपर्छ । अन्तिम लक्ष्य गृहिणीहरुलाई आन्तरिक प्रदुषणबाट मुक्ति दिलाउन भान्छाबाट दाउरालाई विद्युतले प्रतिस्थापन गर्ने हुनुपर्छ । खाना पकाउने ग्यांसको विस्थापन मनग्गे बिजुली सुलभतापूर्वक उपलब्ध भएपछि आफै हुनसक्छ ।

नेपालमा उपभोग्य वस्तुहरु उत्पादन गर्ने उद्योगहरु आवश्यकता अनुरुप स्थापना नभएकोले अर्थतन्त्र पूर्णतः परनिर्भर छ, व्यापार÷शोधनान्तर घाटा चुलिंदोछ । संचालनमा रहेका उद्योगहरु पनि यथेष्ट बिजुलीको अभावमा पूर्ण क्षमतामा संचालित छैनन् । त्यसैले आयात प्रतिस्थापन तथा निर्यात प्रबद्र्धन गर्ने उद्देश्यले बृहत् स्तरमा औद्योगिकरण गर्न सर्वसुलभतापूर्वक बिजुली उपलब्ध गराउने लक्ष्य हुनुपर्छ ।

यस अतिरिक्त कृषि, खनिज, जडिवुटी आदि प्रशोधन उद्योग स्थापनार्थ विद्युतिय उर्जा सर्वसुलभतापूर्वक उपलब्ध गराउने दायित्व राज्यको हुने कुरा ऐनमा उल्लेख गरिनुपर्छ । सिंचाइकोलागि बिजुलीले पानी तान्ने पम्प तथा निर्वाहमुखि कृषि क्षेत्रको व्यवसायिकरण गर्न शीत भण्डार र कृषि सामग्री तथा रासायनिक मल उत्पादन आदि प्रोत्साहित गर्न प्रचुरमात्रामा विद्युत आपूर्ति सुनिश्चित गर्ने व्यवस्था ऐनमा गरिनुपर्छ ।

लाइसेन्स प्रकृया
हाल लाइसेन्स प्रकृया यति खुकुलो छ कि झोलामा खोला भन्ने आहानै बन्यो । यस सम्बन्धमा नयाँ ऐनमा निम्न कुराहरु किटानीसाथ उल्लेख गरिनुपर्छः

* कुनै पनि आयोजनास्थलको लाइसेन्स जारी गर्दा बिजुली उत्पादनको सट्टा पानीको वैकल्पिक उपयोग गर्दा देश बढी लाभान्वित हुनेभए जलविद्युत लाइसेन्स नदिने;
* जलाधार क्षेत्रबाट अधिकतम लाभ प्राप्त हुने गरेर लाइसेन्स दिने;
* बग्ने पानीको परिमाण र उपलब्ध उचाइको इन्जिनियरिंग हिसाबले हुनआउने जडित क्षमताको आधारमा लाइसेन्स जारी नगरी भविष्यमा थप सिंचाइको लागि आवश्यक पानी समेतलाई दृष्टिगत गरेर लाइसेन्स दिने । नत्र भविष्यमा थप सिंचाइ गर्न नपाई जनघनत्वको आवश्यकता अनुरुप खाद्यान्न लगायत उत्पादन हुनसक्दैन;
* राज्यलाई सबभन्दा कम दरमा उच्चस्तरको बिजुली उपलब्ध हुने गरेर पारदर्शी रुपमा प्रतिश्पर्धा गराएर लाइसेन्स जारी गर्ने;
* वित्तिय हैसियत र वित्त परिचालन गर्ने क्षमता नभएकाहरुले लाईसेन्स ओगटेकोले झोलामा खोलाको अवस्था आएको छ, उर्जा संकटको साथै राज्य रोयल्टीबाटपनि बंचित भएकोछ । यसैले आयोजनाको लागतको १० प्रतिशत बराबर बैंक जमानत लिएर मात्र लाइसेन्स दिने;
* लाइसेन्स अवधि पछि आयोजनाको स्वामित्व सरकारमा निक्षेपण हुने भएकोले आयोजनाहरुको डिजायन आयु, निर्माण तथा मर्मत सम्भार मापदण्ड तोकेर अवलम्बन गराउने र लाइसेन्स अवधि पछि कमसेकम १० वर्षसम्म संचालन सुनिश्चित गर्ने ।

देशमा उर्जा संकट छ (खनिज इन्धन इत्यादि प्रतिस्थापन गर्ने लक्ष्य बिनै) । यस्तोमा आयोजनाहरुलाई निकासीमूलक लाइसेन्स दिईनु बिडम्बना हो । देशले पूर्णरुपमा आत्मनिर्भर उर्जा सुरक्षा हासिल नगरेसम्म कुनैपनि आयोजनालाई निकासीमूलक लाइसेन्स दिईनुहुन्न । विशेष कारणले आयोजना विशेषलाई निकासीमूलक बनाउनु पर्दा अनिवार्यरुपमा संसदीय अनुमोदनको व्यवस्था गरिनुपर्छ, वर्तमान संविधानको धारा २७९ को उपधारा (१) र (२)(घ) मा “प्राकृतिक श्रोत तथा त्यसको उपयोगको बाँडफाँट” सम्बन्धी सन्धी र सम्झौता संसदीय अनुमोदन गरिनुपर्ने व्यवस्था भएकोले । स्मरणिय छ, राज्यले लाइसेन्स जारी गरेर पनि सम्झौता गर्दछ ।

निरपेक्ष ढंगबाट बिजुली निकासी नगर्न सम्भव हुन्न । आफूलाई बढी भएको बेलामा निकासी गर्नु र अपुग भएमा पैठारी गर्नु अन्तरनिर्भरताको जमानामा सामान्य कुरा हो । तर यो काम राज्यको आवश्यकता अनुसार गरिनुपर्छ, आयोजना प्रवद्र्धकको हैकममा हैन ।

तल्लो तटीय लाभ
हाल प्रचलनमा रहेको विद्युत ऐन र तुहाईएको विद्युत विधेयकको सबभन्दा ठूलो कमजोरी नै तल्लो तटीय लाभ सम्बन्धी मौनता हो । नेपालको भूभाग डुबाएर, जनतालाई विस्थापित गराएर सुख्खायाममा उत्पादन हुने थप/नियन्त्रित पानी तल्लो तटीय मुलुकलाई निशुल्क दिनु कुनै पनि हालतमा उचित/जायज हैन । किनभने डुबानमा पर्ने जमिनबाट उत्पादन हुने कृषि उपज र वन पैदावारबाट राज्य पचासौं वर्ष सम्म बंचित हुन्छ, कोशी र गंडक सन्धीमा राज्यले गुमाउने मालपोत सम्बन्धीमात्र व्यवस्था छ ।

तसर्थ आयोजनाको नेपाल भित्रको तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्रमा थप÷नियन्त्रित पानी उपभोग हुनसक्ने सम्मको जडित क्षमता निर्धारण गरिनुपर्छ । यदि भारतले नेपालमा निर्मित आयोजनाबाट उत्पादित थप/नियन्त्रित पानी उपभोग गर्ने चाहना राखे अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय प्रचलन÷नजीर बमोजिम यस्तो पानीबापत रकम तिर्न कबूल गरेको खण्डमा मात्र जडित क्षमता बढाउने व्यवस्था ऐनमा गरिनुपर्छ । यस सम्बन्धमा बुढी गंडकी आयोजनाको जडित क्षमता निर्धारण गर्नेहरुबाट ठूलो गल्ती भएकोछ ।

२०७४ माघ २८ गतेको नागरिकमा प्रकाशित

Ratna Sansar Shrestha