Dear Prof Mohan Lohani
Thanks a lot for your encouraging words.
First of all I would like to intimate you that I am not an engineer by profession. I am merely a management professional who is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and a corporate lawyer. However, I have done a lot of self study on engineering issues of policy level and have been working in the water resource sector for quite a while.
Knowing your interest in the issue I would like to add a few things on the subject for your information which, I am sure, you will use when you have an opportunity to talk to interested people.
Even if both modes are to cost at the same level, a country like Nepal should opt for electrification of transport for obvious and many positive externalities that accrues to the country. Not just because capital cost of electric train is substantially lower.
Today’s papers are filled with the news of finance ministry asking NOC to reduce fossil fuel import which is well neigh impossible. But it will become possible in the medium (even short) term if we start electrifying our transportation system gradually and in phased manner. Even US government is encouraging people to go for hybrid cars by providing financial incentives. GoN can emulate the same policy to solve the problem. But MoF is more of a tax ministry than a government agency responsible for the macro economy. Reduction of tariff on electric/hybrid vehicles will result in commensurate decrease in GoN revenue stream. But the decrease will be more than offset by the positive externalities, for example, by global and local impact (for example due to decrease in things like medical expense, absenteeism, etc.) of GHG emission.
But our hydrocrats suffer from a big disconnect. On the one hand they don’t see this market in Nepal for electricity while continuing to perpetuate our dependence on fossil fuel resulting in trade deficit, balance of payment defect and even loss to NOC. But on the other hand they chase the mirage of making Nepal a rich country by exporting power.
As in many cases, in this instance too GoN cannot monopolize the “credit” for barking up the wrong tree. ADB too is fully responsible. People were looking for a viable and faster access to Tarai. Instead of conducting a comprehensive options assessment, ADB, in its wisdom, funded a project to conduct feasibility study to find out which alignment will be viable instead of which mode will really work as MRT and also be sustainable for Nepal, not only financially but also environmentally.
Unless they look beyond their collective noses, instead of being busy in self gratification like this, such simple things will continue to elude them, for the misfortune of this rich country (resource wise) populated by poor leaders (prudence wise).
I don’t think it is already too late to change. Because GoN has yet to get its act together for the so called fast track too. They have merely appropriated Rs 24 crore for this year. At this rate it will take 224 years (56 multiplied by 4 years at the rate of ¼ of a billion each year) to complete fast track road (you will recall how long did it take just to open the “track” to Jumla which has taken the form of veritable death trap to the people using it) and it (the opposite of fast pace of working style) will afford plenty of time to make a correct decision.
Besides, the money spent won’t be wasted as they have merely decided to open “track” along the alignment which will be useful for electric train as service track.
I too wish you a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year 2010 and many more to come.
With best regards,
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
From: Mohan Lohani [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 6:52
Subject: Congrats for your article on Fast Track
Dear Ratna Sansar engineer saheb,
I have gone through your article with great interest and as a professional engineer who loves his country and thinks in the larger interest,you have suggested in your article cost effective technology such as electric train as fast track device to connect different parts of this mountainous country.Let us hope our policy planners and administrators at the helm of affairs will give serious consideration to your suggestions and advice and do the needful for the country which can't afford costly transportation system.
Wishing you a happy new year 2010 and with regards,