September 18, 2009Dear Santa Gaha Magarjee
Your article on the captioned subject has finally appeared in the current issue of Himal. I was under the impression that it was to be published in Bhadra 1st issue. Never mind.
I am sending this email to you as there are a few serious errors in your write up.
In the very first paragraph you have referred to me as a member of "Melamchi Khane Pani Mahasul Nirdharan Ayog". I am neither associated with Melamchi nor does there exist an Ayog as you have described. Rather there exists a Water Supply Tariff Fixation Commission with jurisdiction over the whole Nepal (neither Melamchi only nor Kathmandu valley only) and I am a member of this Commission.
Secondly, you have quoted me to construe that water tariff even after escalation will still be cheap. You have got me completely wrong here. What I reiterated to you was that Kathmandu will suffer from water shortage even after completion of the Melamchi project and diversion of 170 MPLD into Kathmandu valley, because compared to the projected demand of that time, the availability will still be very far from the requirement. Therefore, forget water becoming cheap, consumers will not even have access to the quantum of water based on what they will have to pay at that time as well. You will also recall that with the passage of time the demand will keep on growing and so will the tariff; required to be escalated every year on the basis of inflation. This will mean consumers will keep on receiving water in lesser quantum every successive year but the tariff will keep on growing in inverse fashion. Thus, the very title of the article is misleading and the snippet used further reinforces the misconception about the whole thing.
What I tried to impress upon you was the importance of multipurpose Melamchi in solving water crisis of this valley. Under the multipurpose Melamchi scheme Kathmandu denizens will not only receive plenty of water but the electricity crisis obtaining in this region will too be resolved. The scheme we have proposed will give a new lease of life to our river Bagmati and also make additional water for irrigation in Bara, Rautahat and Sarlahi districts at no additional cost.If you recall, I did talk about the increased tariff becoming effectively cheap for the consumers on the condition that multipurpose Melamchi is implemented. Only in this scenario consumers here will be able to get rid of two stage pumps and reservoirs/tanks as well as the need to buy so called mineral water in bottles and jars or the "tankered" water becoming redundant. And only in this scenario the water will become cheap even if it is escalated by 10 times. Not the way you have led people to believe in your article. However, unfortunately, for the consumers of water supply in Kathmandu valley, electricity users of this region, people dependent on Bagmati river, farmers in Tarai, GoN is showing that it doesn't understand the magnitude and ramification of the problems at all.
With best regards,
Ratna Sansar Shrestha