Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Re: your views on hydropower

August 19, 2009

Mr Kul Chandra Gautam
Former Dy Secretary General, UN

Dear Kul Chandrajee

Good to hear from you and thanks for you encouraging words.

I think you have misunderstood me in your inferring that I am "opposed to all mega projects". I too remember the people you have listed who were advocating "small is beautiful" development approach. I am not with them at all, if you know what I mean. I am for projects, big or small, that will in reality help Nepal, due to various linkages like backward, forward, investment as well as fiscal linkages.

I also disagree with you that I don't offer my own alternativecounter-proposals. Firstly, if you have drawn this conclusion after reading articles published in dailies which limit my articulation due to space constraint then you are doing injustice to me. By doing the critical appraisal, I am giving suggestion too if one is to read between lines.

I am afforded better opportunity to do so when I publish in journals. For example, in the current issue of Hydro Nepal I have clearly sketched out how should West Seti project be structured, you may even be able to access it through Internet. I am happy to note that I was invited by the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament last Sunday to deliver a talk on how should west seti project be structured in the interest of Nepal. It was a successful program.

I am very happy to hear from you and all constructive suggestions are welcome.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

From: Kul Gautam []
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 18:36
To: ratna sansar shrestha
Subject: your views on hydropower

dear ratna sansarji,

i have been reading some of your articles, write-ups and commentaries on the subject of hydro-electricity, water resources, etc. in the nnsd web blog, various newspapers, and other e-mail exchanges.

i find your analyses and arguments very thorough and thoughtful. i want to congratulate you for injecting much needed analytical rigour on so many very superficial proposals and wishful assumptions.

having said that, one does get the impression from the thrust of your writing that you seem instinctively opposed to all mega projects and are very skillful in questioning and challenging other people's proposals but do not quite offer your own alternative counter-proposals.

there was a time when many of us were fascinated by the "small is beautiful" development approach. that approach still has much intellectual appeal, and many populist environmental activists continue to advocate that approach as sacrosanct. but the world has moved on and learning from the experiences of many countries many of us have now become quite pragmatic and open to a variety of approaches - including carefully thought-out mega projects.

in the case of nepal, i have always been very impressed by the writings and perspectives of professionals like yourself, dipak gyawali, bikash pandey, gopal siwakoti chintan, etc. i have often felt sorry and puzzled that nepal's policy-makers and our donor partners do not seem to consult you and take your views seriously. that is a great pity.

i am sure you have done much introspection as to why your good analysis and advice are often ignored by people in positions of power. yes, i am sure there is a combination of incompetence, selfishness, vested interests, etc. but i also note that there are many highly intelligent and competent professionals and politicians who, like you and i, are deeply committed to defending the best interest of the nation, who tend to ignore or reject your analyses and advice.

what non-partisan development professionals with an open-mind like me would like to see is for folks like yourself, dipak gyawali, bikas pandey, etc. to come out with your own ambitious alternative blueprint for hydropower development in nepal so that the debate shifts from what is wrong with current proposals for pancheswor, west seti, arun iii, melamchi, etc. to what could be a better alternative vision and masterplan for water resources development in nepal that would both be instrumental in dramatically accelerating nepal's economic development, while resonating well with the current global concern for coping with climate change. one would also like to see proposals that demonstrate win-win proposals in which both nepal and our neighbours, especially india can benefit equitably rather than having to be always fearful that nepal needs to guard against being cheated and taken for a ride by our neighbours. if we can come up with such proposals, i would hope that we could get some of our donor partners to be supportive. afterall not all donors have a vested interest in cheating nepal, many are genuinely interested in supporting nepal.

perhaps such proposals already exist, and i may not have seen them. but i do feel sincerely that we owe it to the nepali people to come up with better alternative proposals rather than being seen as permanent dissidents who always find faults with all ambitious proposals put forth by nc, uml, maoist governments and by our bureaucracy.

please take this as a constructive suggestion by someone who admires your professionalism and commitment to nepal's genuine development.

with best regards,

kul g
Kul Chandra Gautam

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