Thursday, January 28, 2010

[NNSD] Nepal's water resource sector, Pancheshar project and Nepal's future

January 27, 2010

Mr Phanindra Adhikary

Dear Phanindrajee

I fully agree with you that these people may not listen, especially to people like me who are wont to point out that the “emperor is naked” and even if they listen but it is highly like that they will not “hear”. I welcome your suggestion about a civil society movement. Let’s do something urgently.

With regard to your question if we are prepared to take risk, I for one am prepared to take the risk and I already am taking it aplenty and from the tone and tenor of your email it is clear that you are too. I am sure that there are many more in this forum [NNSD] itself who will be wiling to take the extra step in the interest of this nation and the generations to come. It is clear that due to all these wrong decisions, the future generations are being cheated and this generation is condemning the future generation to a fate worst than ours.

Let’s just take the example of opposition of Upper Karnali project by UCPNM. I just heard on the news that people are condemning the opposition of Upper Karnali project by UCPNM. But I hold a different view (as usual!) and support the move by UCPNM (although I don’t believe in communism). Because, the site has potential for 4,180 MW storage project and Indians are wrecking the site (I am sure intentionally) by exploiting it at far lower than its optimum capacity, only as a 300 MW project. By developing the site to its optimum potential we can have peak energy that fetches premium price (at very low cost). Additionally, the augmented flow can be used to change the fate of downstream districts like Kailali, Banke, Bardiya etc. not just in terms of increasing the cropping intensity, thereby increasing agricultural productivity, but even benefiting from things like water transportation et al.

At least what UCPNM is doing in this instance is in national interest.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha
From: [] On Behalf Of Phanindra Adhikary
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 15:26
Subject: RE: [NNSD] Nepal's water resource sector, Pancheshar project and Nepal's future

Dear Ratna Sansar ji,

I think we need a movement on the issues that you have raised. I don't think articles that come out are read by the so-called decision/policy makers; and some groups of people meeting the political leaders might feel that they have been heard, but I am sure they are neither listened to and nor understood in view of political culture we have.

The hope is a civil society movement that is professional, non-partisan and that works in the interest of the people and Nepal, and not to one or two political parties.

Are we prepared to take the risk? I can be supportive, but can I participate in it? I need to think twice and I am sure we all have same dilemmas. If professionals can come out of this dilemma and work for a movement – then potentially the impossible of 'pulling back the Goru from going down-hill' can be turned to a 'difficult one from impossible'!


From: [] On Behalf Of Ratna Sansar Shrestha
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 7:01 AM
Subject: [NNSD] Nepal's water resource sector, Pancheshar project and Nepal's future

This scribe is resigned to being the most misunderstood person by a big section of Nepali populace because when he writes critical articles, as he is wont to, people brand him “anti development.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

[NNSD] Nepal's water resource sector, Pancheshar project and Nepal's future

This scribe is resigned to being the most misunderstood person by a big section of Nepali populace because when he writes critical articles, as he is wont to, people brand him “anti development.” But there are a few that seem to understand what he is trying to do; be positively critical. However, even amongst this group there are people whom this scribe has not succeeded to get the message across that it is possible to harness our enormous hydropower potential (actually the water resources) to our benefit during our lifetime. They have started to believe that there is no mega project which is feasible enough that would benefit Nepal more. This made him feel that he has succeeded only partly and the lesson that he has learnt from this is that he needs to be further clear; say things more explicitly and without mincing words, even bluntly (which makes some people uncomfortable due to the tone and tenor of the writings; in order to ensure that the hydrocracy gets the message).

He has written lengthy articles on optimum exploitation of the water resources to Nepal’s benefit, which need not be repeated here (already available in his blog). He firmly believes that it is possible to turn around this country and water resource can be the DRIVER for all this; metamorphosis of Nepal is possible if water resource, not just hydropower, sector is correctly handled. As regards the question of whether it will be possible depends on answers to a range of questions like:

* What kind of leadership (with proper vision or like the current crop of leaders that we have to bear with) we chose? We need to remember that we, “the people,” deserve to be blamed for the rottenness of the leadership as “people get the leadership they deserve.” People need to speak up loudly and clearly so that they are heard as well as understood. We need to ensure that we are heard more resoundingly; forcing the leadership to get their act together. We need to emulate what PEOPLE did in Bangkok and Manila.

* What type of policies they formulate? He has written many articles on the subject. As long as we have policy, for example, geared to solve load shedding problem in India, instead of Nepal, we will continue to have load shedding in Nepal and nobody should be surprised by this. If a parent feeds the limited food available to the members of another family, then it will not be surprising if his family has to go hungry. If this crop of leaders do not understand this, then it is futile to expect anything from them.

* Whether the policies (only if appropriate) will be sincerely implemented. We, unfortunately, have a track record of policies getting distorted during implementation and in such circumstance; even good policies will throw up bad result.

* Whether we will have institutional mechanism conducive for the purpose. We are now looking at institutions created to fit the kith and kin of the leadership (to generate employment for them) instead of being instrumental in the formulation of sound policies and implementation thereof.

* Whether there will be investment friendly environment. 9th five year plan targeted to add 293 MW in the system and it actually succeeded to add 268 MW (91.5% achievement – an unprecedented success so far and will be rare in future too) but during 10th plan only 40 MW was added while the target was 314 MW, a case of plan failure. The single biggest problem behind it was lack of investment friendly environment due to Maoists insurgency and political instability, including law and order problem.

* Whether currently rampant corruption will continue to rule (some people opine that a minimum level of corruption is unavoidable and actually works as lubricant for things to move smoothly). It seems that Nepal has become a haven for corrupt people; not just Nepali people, but we seem to have magnetic force that attracts corrupt people from all over the world.

* and ….

Reading my latest article on Pancheshwar people have jumped to the conclusion that “there is no mega project which is feasible enough that would benefit Nepal more.” This is not correct. It’s merely a matter of how the project is structured and packaged. We can structure and package even Pancheshwar project for the larger benefit of Nepal and Nepali. A simple table below should be able to drive the point home. The cost and benefit of this project gets apportioned as follows under current structure and packaging of this project:

This scribe is against implementation of this project due to lop sided distribution of cost and benefit; Nepal to bear cost (in terms of inundation and displacement) more than commensurate benefit (accruing from flood control and augmented flow). In the computation of cost benefit analysis above, electricity is neutral as Nepal is to benefit from it in proportion to her investment. Besides, it’s not prudent for a country like Nepal to invest Rs 111 billion of its scarce resources to alleviate load shedding problem in India.

There are two options with regards to how should this project be structured and packaged to optimize benefit for Nepal:

Option one: we can implement this project as it is, if India agrees to recompense Nepal for additional benefit from flood control and augmented flow that she gets more than one-half share that she is entitled to. Following the principle set forth in the agreement between Lesotho and South Africa, India will have to pay Rs 17 billion per year as she stands to get over 200 m3/s of water belonging to Nepal; the reference here is not the water during rainy season but water stored in the reservoir built by submerging Nepal’s land and displacing Nepali people. Assuming that annual flood control benefit is worth Rs 3 billion (authorities have yet to release data about it); India will have to pay to Nepal Rs 1.2 billion/year (for 40% that belongs to Nepal) on this account. The total revenue stream as such of 6 years will suffice to invest in this project expected to cost Rs 111 billion to Nepal; without having to mobilize funding by Nepal.

Option two: if the above formula is unacceptable to India, then the project should be downsized to just enable it to store enough water to irrigate 93,000 hectares land on Nepal’s side which will bring down the submergence in Nepal to about 1,000 hectares only and commensurate reduction in displacement of people in Nepal will also occur.

People also use the term “India phobia” in this context and current energy minister, Dr Mahat also used it in a parliamentary committee hearing where his scribe was invited as an “expert”. This scribe has not written as such because of any such complex. These articles have been written for the love of motherland. Our politicos misled Nepali people saying that with the signing of Mahakali treaty (hence this project too) Nepal has gained as the principle of equality was enshrined in this treaty. Unfortunately, there is no equality as has been pointed out above. Therefore, this scribe is critical of this treaty and the project. Not because of India phobia. People have also referred to “fear psychosis” about mega projects. That is not true at all. There is no need to fear mega projects, nor to have any such psychosis. But benefit commensurate to cost (entire life cycle cost, not just financial investment but also cost in terms of human displacement and submergence of Nepal’s land) is what we should seek.

People say that we need to learn from Bhutan. Bhutan model is successful in Bhutan because she is Bhutan – a protectorate of India – and will not be successful in Nepal. Simple reason is India takes care of her security which also means hydropower projects there are secured by India. Same will not be possible in Nepal simply because we cannot have Indian security force on our soil; although we already have them in Koshi and Gandak project from where they needs to be evicted forthwith. There is already Indian design to have Indian security force stationed in Kathmandu, manifest in Hisila Yami, in the capacity of tourism minister, reportedly agreeing to station Indian security at our international airport. This scribe has written a number of articles on this subjects which have been uploaded in his blog.

People also lament the cancellation of Arun III project in 1995 and blamed UML for it. This scribe firmly believes that Nepal was fortunate to have this project cancelled at that time and UML doesn’t deserve the credit for Nepal’s good fortune as such. GoN is again trying to do disservice to Nepal by planning to implement it such that load shedding in India will be mitigated and leave Nepal in the darkness. An in-depth analysis about it done by this scribe can be perused by following the link below:

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Your worth reading article

January 23, 2010

Prof. Dr Mohan Lohani

Dear Prof Lohani

Thanks a lot for your kind words. As one can have only one mother, similarly one has only one motherland. Therefore, I rather have strong sense of nationality. However, I also believe that most of the people in Nepal are not different from me, including yourself. You wouldn’t have bothered to send me following email, sparing time from your busy scheduled, if you too didn’t feel strongly about it.

Please do keep sending your comments.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

-----Original Message-----
From: Mohan Lohani []
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 6:35
To: Ratna Sansar Shrestha
Subject: Your worth reading article

Dear Ratna Sansarji,

As I go through your articles, I have noticed your deep sense of nationality which is reflected in your forthright views on issues of national concern such as utilization of hydropower in national interest.I wish our policy makers who represent major political parties would listen to you and pay attention to what you have to say on issues of national concern.

Tks and regds,

Prof.Mohan lohani

Monday, January 25, 2010

[NNSD} Federalism

January 23, 2010

Mr Pradip Nepal
Former Water Resource Minister

Dear Pradipjee

I am glad that you have come out with a very strong (also blunt) statement. We the concerned people of Nepal, expressing solidarity with you, would like to know what we could do to stop the members of CA from doing this.

Since you are a powerful member of UML party, we would appreciate it if you get your party to understand the ramifications of what you have said and your party is to do something before it’s too late to stem the downward slide. As the old saying goes, it’s not prudent to do things in this hurried fashion, only to repent in leisure. By that time, unfortunately, it would already have been too late.

There must be something ordinary people like yours truly, who are not associated/involved with any political party, also could do. If there is, besides, what we already are doing, something the likes of us could do, please let us know. We are ever ready to ensure that we could stop them from destroying our motherland.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

From: [] On Behalf Of Pradip Nepal
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 8:00
Subject: Re: [NNSD]

You the member of SAMBIDHANSHAVA(Constitution Assembly) are going to destroy the motherland.Let's song the gloomy and sad song
>-- प्रदीप नेपाल
....On 1/21/10, khimlal devkota title="" href="">> wrote:>
Thank you for your kind and quick response and concerns. The committee has finished their job within given time 7th amended scheduled 14 province voted by mejority another desending opinion is also> recognised 600+members are free to voice in CA. It is just preliminary> one take it positively and please send suggestions for refine and make it practicle.>>
Khimlal Devkota

Sunday, January 24, 2010

RE: [ngoforum] Fw: My article in today's Gorkhapatra on on Pancheshwar

January 19, 2010
Narayan Silwal
Former Secretary
Ministry of Labor and Transport

There are two levels.

Yes, as the treaty has already been signed, it’s a fait accompli. In the national interest we could ask for a review or even cancellation of this treaty and enter into further negotiation. But India, obviously, will not be too eager to do so.

However, Pancheshwar, although an integral part of the treaty, is very different issue. Because it will not get built if we don’t want it built and I would say there is no point in building it under the circumstance. What needs to be remembered is that to build it Nepal will have to invest Rs 111 billion (this is just estimated cost and, based on the past experience, the actual cost is likely to double or even treble). Why should Nepal build it if Nepal is to be required to find scarce resource to build it but the load shedding problem is to be mitigated in India! The important point is Nepal should invest to solve the load shedding problem in Nepal not in India.

More importantly, besides money, Nepal has to invest land and people too to build it – about 8,700 hectares of land and 65,000 people. Yes, to build it Nepal will have to sacrifice it 8,700 hectares of land to inundation and 65,000 people will be displaced if it is built. Therefore, as you have appropriately used the term, lopsided, Nepal shouldn’t make another mistake (first mistake was to sign the treaty) by investing money, land and people to build it, simply because the benefit that will accrue from this project to Nepal is not commensurate to the cost she has to bear.

Further, why should Nepal invest 50% of monetary cost and 43% of cost in terms of land to irrigate 16 lakh hectares of land in India and just 93,000 hectares in Nepal? Similarly, why should Nepal invest just to allow India to benefit 90% from flood control with just 10% for Nepal?

Ideally, to sum up, we should try to have a better treaty signed to replace the current treaty. This may not be possible. Then Nepal should not compound the mistake by further investing money, land and people in building this project.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

From: [] On Behalf Of Narayan Prasad Silwal
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2010 11:36
Subject: RE: [ngoforum] Fw: My article in today's Gorkhapatra on ?????????????


I went through your article on Pancheshor. Now that a treaty is already signed and DPR almost ready, what alternate measures Nepal can pursue to correct the lopsided treaty without breaching it? Is it possible to enter into further negotiation? Or Restart the process again or refrain from entering into force? You could suggest.


np silwal

To: ;From:
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 10:46:18 +0545
Subject: [ngoforum] Fw: My article in today's Gorkhapatra on

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RE: [NNSD] My article on "fast" track

January 12, 2010
Mr Kul Chandra Gautam
Former Asst. Secretary General, UN


I have borrowed the technical and cost details of the electric train from Birendra Keshari Pokhrel and Shankar Nath Rimal. 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 look for an opportunity to catch up with you and chat when you are not that pressed for time.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

From: Kul Gautam []
Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 20:10
To: ratna sansar shrestha
Subject: RE: [NNSD] My article on "fast" track


thank you for articulating another bright idea.

i too had read an article by birendra keshari pokhrel comparing road vs. rail with clear conclusion in favour of railway as you have also argued. it maybe too late to change in the case of the so-called fast track road, which i understand is already in progress (?), but there are other projects in pipe-line (e.g. outer ringroad in ktm, expansion of existing ring road with additional lanes) which could probaly be stopped in favour of trams and trains.

i also get flabbergasted as to why our policy makers and donors are not more discerning about such common sense, environment-friendly, economic alternatives - e.g. lower taxes for electric cars vs. gas guzzlers, high-speed trains vs. smoke-belching trucks in meandering roads. i know, it sounds outlandish to think about electric trains when we have long-hours of load shedding, but if we think in a little long-term perspective all the arguments about electrically operated transort and industry is so common sense.

for us to go to kalapathhar and copenhagen to plead for saving our environment and then to turn around and go for more environment damaging roads and not even consider alternative approaches seems so foolish and insincere.

what can we do with our planning commission, finance ministry, donors to have a serious and sustained debate on this? what are the vested interests that we should be aware of.

i look forward to an opportunity to chat with you.

warm regards,
kul g
Kul Chandra Gautam

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

जलश्रोतको सन्दर्भमा टुहुरो नागरिक सर्बोच्चता

बिद्युत बिधेयक २०६५ - जलश्रोतको सन्दर्भमा टुहुरो नागरिक सर्बोच्चता

नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको अभाव दर्शाएर २०६६ साल बैशाखमा राजिनामा दिएको माओबादी नेतृत्वको सरकारले २०६५ साल चैतमा बिद्युत बिधेयक २०६५ संसदमा प्रस्तुत गरेको थियो । सांसदहरुलाई यसमा संशोधन प्रस्तावहरु पेश गर्न दिएको ३ दिने म्याद २०६६ पौष २३ गते ४ बजे सकियो र बिधायन समितिमा दफावार छलफलको लागि संसदको बैठकले माघ ३ गते स्वीकृति दिएकोछ । यस पृष्ठभूमिमा यो बिधेयकलाई नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको कसीमा घोटेर परिक्षण गर्नु समसामयिक हुनेछ ।

संसदीय अनुमोदन
हाल प्रचलनमा रहेको अन्तरिम सम्बिधानको धारा १५६ मा प्राकृतिक श्रोतको उपयोग र सोको बांडफांट सम्बन्धमा संसदीय अनुमोदनको व्यवस्था छ र अनुमोदन ूतत्काल कायम रहेका सम्पूर्ण सदस्यहरुको दुई तिहाई बहुमतले गर्नुपर्नेू व्यवस्था छ । तर ूराष्ट्रलाई व्यापक गम्भीर वा दीर्घकालिन असर नपर्ने साधारण प्रकृतिका सन्धी सम्झौताू भने बहुमतले पारित गर्न सकिन्छ । यो कार्य कानूनले तोके बमोजिम हुने पनि व्यवस्था छ ।

यस्तै व्यवस्था २०४७ सालको संबिधानको धारा १२६ मा पनि थियो र जुन अन्तर्गत २०५३ साल असोज ४ गते संसदको संयुक्त सत्रको दुई तिहाई भन्दा बढी मतले महाकाली सन्धी अनुमोदित भयो । तथापि माओबादी दलले यो सन्धीलाई राष्ट्रघाती ठहर् याएकोछ र यस पंक्तिकारले कुनै पनि प्रकारको साम्यबादमा विश्वास नगरेतापनि उक्त दलको यो सन्धी सम्बन्धी धारणासंग सहमत रहेको कुरा सार्वजनिक भएकैछ ।

नागरिक सर्बोच्चता
सार्वभौमसत्ता सम्पन्न नागरिकबाट चुनिएको हुनाले संसदले नेपाली नागरिकको सार्वभौमसत्ता प्रतिबिम्बित गर्दछ । नेपाली नागरिकको आशा आकांक्षा र अभिलाषा पनि संसदबाटैं प्रतिध्वनित हुन्छ । अर्को शब्दमा नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको सर्वोत्कृष्ट पहिचान संसदमा नैं निहित हुन्छ । तसर्थ प्राकृतिक श्रोतको उपयोग तथा बांडफांट जस्ता महत्वपूर्ण विषयमा सार्वभौम जनताका प्रतिनिधिबाट अनुमोदन लिनु भनेको नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको सिद्धान्त पालनाको सर्वोत्कृष्ट कार्य हो भन्नु अत्युक्ति हुन्न ।

संबिधानमा संसदीय अनुमोदनको व्यवस्था भएको झण्डै २ दशक हुन लाग्यो तर पनि संबिधानले तोके बमोजिम यस सम्बन्धी कानून निर्माण गर्ने तर्फ कसैले ध्यान दिएको छैन अभिरुचि पनि देखाएको छैन । हाल सम्मका सरकारहरुको उदासिनता प्रति अहिले सम्मका कुनै पनि संसद व्यवस्थापिकाले चासो देखाएकोछैन । सायद कांग्रेस एमाले र पूर्व पाचहरुका दलहरु नागरिक सर्बोच्चताप्रति निष्ठावान नभएकोले संसदीय अनुमोदनको व्यवस्थाप्रति उदासिन भएको अनुमान लगाउन सकिन्छ ।

एनेकपा माओबादी दल
तर व्यवस्थापिका-संसदको पनि जिम्मेवारी बहन गर्ने वर्तमान संबिधान सभामा माओबादी दलको बलियो उपस्थितिले गर्दा संसदीय अनुमोदनबाट प्रस्फुटन हुने नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको उपेक्षा नहुने आशा गर्न सकिन्छ । विषेश गरेर माओबादी अध्यक्ष प्रचण्डले प्रधान मन्त्री पदबाट गत बैशाखमा राजिनामा गर्दा देखि नैं नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको प्रति निष्ठा एवम् कटिबद्धता व्यक्त गर्दै आएको मात्र नभएर सोको पक्षमा बहस तथा पैरबी पनि गर्दै आएको छ । उक्त दलले नागरिक सर्बोच्चता कायम गर्न हाल सम्म अवलम्बन गरेको तौर तरिका बैशाख देखि नैं झण्डै निरन्तर पौष सम्म संसद अवरोध गरेको समेत प्रति बिबाद हुनसक्छ तर नागरिक सर्बोच्चता कायम गर्ने अपरिहार्यतामा प्रश्न गर्ने ठाउं छैन । किनभने संसदीय अनुमोदनको प्रकृया नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको सर्बोत्कृष्ट र सर्बाेत्तम प्रकृया हो ।

प्राकृतिक श्रोतको उपयोग र बांडफांट
जलबिद्युत उत्पादन जलश्रोतको उपयोग हो र यसको निकासी गर्नु बांडफांट गर्नु हो । किनभने सार्वभौम नेपाली नागरिकको हक लाग्ने प्राकृतिक श्रोतबाट उत्पादित बिजुली निकासी गर्दा नेपाली जनतालाई बंचित गरेर अन्यत्रका जनतालाई उपलब्ध गरिन्छ । तसर्थ सरकारले निकासीमूलक आयोजनाको सन्दर्भमा निर्णय गर्दा नागरिक सर्बोच्चतालाई मनन् गरेर संसदीय अनुमोदनको प्रकृयामा जानुपर्दछ । तर हाल संसदमा बिचाराधीन रहेको बिधेयक यस सम्बन्धमा मौन रहनाले नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको अवहेलना भएकोछ ।

नेपालमा एउटा तप्का छ जसले बिजुली निकासी भनेको इलेक्ट्रनको सामान्य ब्यापार हो र यो कार्यले वर्तमान संबिधानको धारा १५६ आकर्षित गर्दैन भन्ने धारणा राख्दछ । यस सम्बन्धमा स्पष्ट कानूनको अभावमा माथिल्लो कर्णाली र अरुण तेश्रो सम्बन्धमा सर्बोच्च अदालतमा रिट निबेदन समेत परेको पृष्ठभूमिमा बिजुली निकासी प्राकृतिक श्रोतको उपयोगको बांडफांट होइन भन्ने नैं हो भने प्रस्तुत बिधेयकमा यस सम्बन्धमा स्पष्ट व्यवस्था हुन वान्छनिय छ । यसो गर्नाले न्यायपालिकामा पर्ने मुद्दाको संख्यामा पनि कमी हुनेछ र जलबिद्युत क्षेत्रमा बिना अवरोध लगानि आकर्षित हुने वातावरण बन्नेछ ।

नेपाली नागरिकलाई अंध्यारोमा राखेर भारतमा उज्यालो
नेपालमा अहिले लोड सेिडंग ब्याप्त छ र यस पंक्तिकारको आकलनमा अर्को दस वर्ष सम्म पनि नेपाली नागरिकले यो समस्याबाट राहत पाउने अवस्था देिखंदैन । तर सरकारले भने उच्च गुणस्तरको बिजुली न्यूनतम लागतमा उत्पादन हुने अरुण तेश्रो बुढी गण्डकी माथिल्लो कर्णाली र पश्चिम सेती जस्ता आयोजना भारत निकासी गर्ने गरेर अनुमतिपत्र प्रदान गरिसकेकोछ सम्झौताहरु गरेकोछ । साचार माध्यममा खास चर्चा नभए पनि तामाकोशी दोश्रो र तेश्रो लिखु बलेफी जस्ता आयोजनाहरु पनि भारत निकासी गर्ने उद्देश्यले काम भईरहेको छ । नेपाली जनतालाई अंध्यारोमा राखेर भारतमा उज्यालो पार्ने काम पनि सामान्य नागरिकको हितमा भएको मान्न सकिन्न र यसले पनि नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको उल्लंघन गर्दछ ।

तसर्थ बिद्युत बिधेयकमा नैं बिजुली उपयोगको दृष्टिकोणबाट नेपाली नागरिकले प्राथमिकता प्राप्त गर्ने व्यवस्था भएमा मात्र नागरिक सर्बोच्चता कायम हुने देखिन्छ । अर्थात निकासीमूलक आयोजनाको हकमा संसदीय अनुमोदनको व्यवस्था गर्न आवश्यक नठानिएमा कुनै पनि आयोजनालाई निकासीमूलक रुपमा अनुमतिपत्र दिनु अगाडी उक्त आयोजनाबाट उत्पादित बिजुली नेपालमा अनावश्यक ठहरेमा मात्र गर्ने व्यवस्था गर्न वान्छनिय छ । नत्र नागरिक सर्बोच्चता नारामा मात्र सीमित रहनेछ र सर्बोच्च नागरिक चािहं अध्यारोमा जीवन यापन गर्न अभिशप्त हुनेछन् ।

तल्लो तटीय लाभ
तर निकासीमूलक जलाशययुक्त आयोजनामा संचित पानी भारत लगायतका तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्रमा उपलब्ध गराउंदा भने इलेक्ट्रनको व्यापार मात्र नभएर नेपालको भूमि डुबानमा पारेर स्थानिय नेपाली बासिन्दालाई बिस्थापित गराएर संचित हुने पानी बांडफांट हुने स्वतः सिद्ध छ र यस्ता आयोजनाको सन्दर्भमा धारा १५६ निश्चय पनि आकर्षित हुन्छ । अझ जलश्रोतको सन्दर्भमा ूबिद्यमान उपभोग्य उपयोगूको सिद्धान्त प्रयुक्त हुने प्रचलनले गर्दा निकासीमूलक आयोजनाको अनुमतिपत्रको अवधि पूरा भएपछि बिजुली माथि नेपालको हक पुनःस्थापित भएतापनि तल्लो तटीय मुलुकले पानी भने सदैव निरन्तर उपयोग गर्न पाउने हुनाले यस्ता आयोजनको सन्दर्भमा प्राकृतिक श्रोतको बांडफांट मात्र नभएर सदाकोलागि नेपालले जलश्रोत माथिको हक गुमाउने हुनाले पनि यस्ता आयोजनाको सम्बन्धमा संसदमा ब्यापक छलफल गर्नको लागि पनि संसदीय अुमोदनको प्रकृया अनिवार्य छ ।

जलाशयमा संचित पानी तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्रमा उपलब्ध हुनाले सुख्खायाममा िसंचाई गर्न खानेपानीको लागि औद्योगिक प्रयोजनको लागि मात्र उपलब्ध नभएर जलकृडामा आधारित जलपर्यटन तथा जल परिवहन पनि सम्भव भएर फाइदा पुग्न जान्छ । यस्तै नेपालमा जलाशयमा वर्षातको पानी संचय गर्नाले तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्र बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट पनि लाभान्वित हुन्छ । नेपालको भूभाग डुबाएर नेपाली जनतालाई बिस्थापित गरेर छिमेकी मुलुकलाई यसरी लाभान्वित गर्ने कार्य संसदीय अनुमोदन बिना गर्नु कदापी नागरिक सर्बोच्चता कायम गरेको मान्न सकिन्न ।

सर्बोच्च अदालत
उदाहरणको लागि पश्चिम सेती एउटा निकासीमूलक आयोजना हो र एक तप्काको धारणामा नेपाल सरकारले गरेको यस सम्बन्धी सम्झौतामा संसदीय अनुमोदन आवश्यक छ । नेपालबाट भारतमा बिजुली निकासी गर्न दुई राष्ट्र बीच सन्धी भएमा संसदीय अनुमोदनको झमेला हुने भएकोले होला यो आयोजनाको सम्बन्धमा निजी क्षेत्रलाई अघि सारेर सम्झौता भएकोछ । नेपाल सरकार र भारत सरकार बीच भारतमा बिजुली आपूर्ति गर्ने सन्धी गर्नुको सट्टा एउटा बिचौलिया संस्था खडा गरेर संसदीय अनुमोदनको व्यवस्था प्रभावकारीरुपमा छलेको देखिन्छ ।

एकछिनलाई मार्नौ बिजुलीको निकासी भनेको इलेक्ट्रनको ब्यापार हुनाले संसदीय अनुमोदनको आवश्यकता छैन । तर यो आयोजनाको लागि निर्माण हुने जलाशयबाट प्रति सेकेण्ड ९० घन मिटर पानी त्यो पनि सुख्खायाममा भारतलाई उपलब्ध हुने अवस्था छ । यति परिमाणको पानीले पानी फारो हुने खेती गर्दा २ लाख ७० हजार हेक्टर िसंचाई हुन्छ र यस्तो पानी नेपालमा उपयोग गर्ने गरेर यो आयोजनालाई बहुउद्देश्यीय नबनाइएकोले पानी सोझै भारतको पोल्टामा पर्ने अवस्था छ र जलश्रोतको बांडफांट हुने अवस्था छ । यस परिबेशमा यो आयोजनाको हकमा प्राकृतिक श्रोतको उपयोगको बांडफांट हुने कारणले संसदीय अनुमोदनको प्रकृयामा नगएर नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको ठाडै उल्लंघन भएकोछ ।
यो आयोजना सम्बन्धी सम्झौता संसदबाट अनुमोदित हुनुपर्छ भन्ने रिट निबेदन सर्बोच्च अदालतमा परेको थियो र यो पंक्तिकार लगायतले बहस गरेका थिए । तर सम्मानित अदालतले यो सम्झौता अन्तर्गत बिजुली निकासी गर्ने आयोजना सम्म निर्माण हुने र निश्चित अवधि पछि आयोजनामाथि नेपाल सरकारको स्वतः हक लाग्ने भन्ने व्याख्या गरेर संसदीय अनुमोदन आवश्यक नहुने फैसला गर् यो । यसरी फैसला गिरंदा २ लाख ७० हजार हेक्टर िसंचाई गर्न पुग्ने पानी भारतलाई सुम्पने व्यवस्था गरेको कुरा भने ओझेलमा पारियो जुन निश्चय पनि नेपालको जलश्रोतको बांडफांट हो । अझ स्मरणिय कुरा के छ भने ९० घन मिटर प्रति सेकेण्ड परिमाणको यो पानी वर्षातमा यत्तिकै उपलब्ध हुने पानी होइन र तल्लो तटीय मुलुक भारतमा त्यत्तिकै बगेर जाने पनि होइन । यो पानी नेपालको बहुमूल्य भूमि ३ हजार हेक्टर डुबानमा पारेर र झण्डै १३ हजार नेपाली जनतालाई बिस्थापित गरेर संचय हुने पानी हो । यस्तो पानीको सम्बन्धमा हलुका ढंगले निर्णय गर्नु नेपालको दीर्घकालीन हितको दृष्टिकोणबाट उचित मान्न सकिन्न ।

सर्बोच्च अदालतले समेत संसदीय अनुमोदन सम्बन्धी कानूनको अभावमा यस्तो धारणा बनाएको सम्भावना पनि नकार्न सकिन्न । सम्मानित अदालतमा बहस गर्ने यस पंक्तिकार समेतका कानून व्यवसायीले प्रष्ट्याउन असफल भएको कुरा के छ भने अनुमतिपत्रको अवधि पछि आयोजनाबाट उत्पादित बिजुलीमा नेपाल सरकारको हक स्थापित हुन्छ तर ूबिद्यमान उपभोग्य उपयोगूको सिद्धान्त कार्यान्वयन भएर त्यस पछिको अवधिमा पनि यो आयोजनाको जलाशयमा संचित भएर तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्र भारतमा उपलब्ध हुने २ लाख ७० हजार हेक्टर जमिन िसंचाई गर्न पुग्ने पानीमा भारतको हक कायमै रहन्छ र नेपालले यो पानीमा सदाको लागि हक गुमाउंदछ भन्ने । तसर्थ संसदीय अनुमोदन प्रकृया छल्नाले नेपाली मात्रको हक भएको संचित पानी सदाको लागि भारतलाई सुम्पने काम भएकोछ ।

सर्बोच्च अदालतको माथि उल्लिखित फैसला नजीरको रुपमा मानिने हुनाले नेपालको सर्वाधिक ठूलो चिसापानीमा अवस्थित हुने १० हजार ८ सय मेगावाट क्षमताको कर्णाली आयोजनाको सन्दर्भमा पनि संसदीय अनुमोदनको प्रकृया अनावश्यक ठहर् याएर आयोजना सम्झौता हुने अथवा अनुमतिपत्र जारी हुने सम्भावना प्रबल छ र नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको सिद्धान्तको हदै सम्म उल्लंघन हुने अवस्था सृजना भएकोछ । यो आयोजना सम्बन्धमा पनि अनुमतिपत्रको लागि दरखास्त २ वर्ष अगाडी परिसकेकोछ र संसदीय अनुमोदन बिना यो आयोजनाको लाभबाट पनि नेपाली नागरिक बंचित गराईने परिवेश तयार छ । तसर्थ यो बिधेयकमा नैं जलाशययुक्त निकासीमूलक आयोजनाको सम्बन्धमा संसदीय अनुमोदन बारे स्पष्ट व्यवस्था हुनुपर्छ ।

भारतमा सस्तो बिजुली
बिधेयकको दफा ४११ अनुसार आयोजना निमार्णको लागि आयात गरिने आवश्यक मेशिनरी उपकरण औजार आदिमा लाग्ने भंसार महशूल मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर जस्ता पैठारी महशूल छूट दिनाले आयोजनाको निर्माण लागत घट्दछ र यस्तो आयोजनाबाट उत्पादन हुने बिजुलीको उत्पादन लागत पनि स्वभावतः कम हुन्छ । यसरी छूट दिनाले राज्यको कोषले राजश्व गुमाएतापनि उत्पादित बिजुलीको लागत सस्तो हुने हुनाले उपभोक्ताले सस्तो बिजुली उपभोग गर्ने अवसर पाउने हुन्छ र यसबाट मुलुककै अर्थतन्त्र लाभान्वित हुन्छ । दफा ४१२ मा भएको आयकर छूटको प्रभाव पनि यस्तै हुन्छ किनभने आयकर छूट पाईएमा कम दरमा बिक्री गरे पनि आयोजना वित्तिय रुपमा दीगो तवरले संचालन हुन सक्छ । समग्रमा यसरी छूट दिइनाले नेपालको अर्थतन्त्र नैं लाभान्वित हुन्छ ।

तर निकासीमूलक आयोजनाको हकमा भने नेपालको अर्थतन्त्रले एकातिर मेशिनरी उपकरण औजार आदिमा लाग्ने पैठारी महशूलबाट प्राप्त हुनु पर्ने राजश्व तथा आयकर राजश्व गुमाउंदछ भने नेपाली उपभोक्ताले समेत यस्ता सस्ता आयोजनाबाट उत्पादित सस्तो बिजुली उपयोग गर्ने अवसरबाट बंचित हुने हुनाले नेपालको अर्थतन्त्रले दोहरै गुमाउंदछ । अर्थात नेपाली नागरिक सस्तो बिजुली उपभोग गर्ने अवसरबाट बंचित भएर पनि नेपाली नागरिकको सर्बोच्चता गुम्न जान्छ । तसर्थ प्रस्तुत बिधेयकमा नेपाली जनता सस्तो बिजुलीबाट लाभान्वित हुनेमा सरकारले राजश्वको श्रोत तिलांजली दिनु औचित्यपूर्ण हुन्छ तर नेपाली नागरिक सस्तो बिजुलीबाट बंचित हुने र नेपाल सरकार राजश्वबाट बंचित हुने व्यवस्था नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको सिद्धान्त बिपरित काम हो ।

जलश्रोत नेपालको भाग्य बिधाता हो यसमा नेपालको कायाकल्प गर्ने क्षमता छ जुन धेरैले बुझेको देखिएको छैन । भारतसंग सम्पन्न सन्धीबाट नेपाल ठगिएकोमा भारतको आलोचना गर्ने माओबादी नेतृत्वको सरकारले प्रस्तुत गरेको ऐनको मस्यौदाबाट यसरी नागरिक सर्बोच्चताको सिद्धान्त उल्लंघन भएको अध्यक्ष प्रचण्डलाई समेत जानकारी नभएको यस पंक्तिकारले हालै थाहा पाएकोछ । सन्धी परिवर्तन नेपालले मात्र चाहेर हुन्न भारत पनि सहमत हुनुपर्छ । तर नेपालको संसदबाट पारित हुने बिधेयक नेपाली नागरिकको प्रतिनिधि संसदको इच्छामा निर्भर गर्छ र यस्तो कुरामा बेला छैदै नसोचेर पछि पछुताएर लाभ हुन्न । तसर्थ आशा एवम् विश्वास छ यस बिधेयकमा आवश्यक सुधार गरेर नागरिक सर्बोच्चता प्रतिको निष्ठा र कटिबद्धता जाहेर गर्ने मौका माओबादी दल लगायतले गुमाउने छैन ।

समग्रमा जलाशयमा संचित पानी तल्लो तटीय इलाका भारतमा उपयोग हुने सन्दर्भमा संसदीय अनुमोदनको लागि ऐनमा व्यवस्था गर्ने नेपालमा बिद्युतिय संकट टार्ने तथा देशको आर्थिक विकाशलाई भ्यागुते छलाङ लगाउन सघाउने तरीकाले बिजुली खपत बढाएर औद्योगिकरण गरेर रोजगारी सृजना गर्न सन्दर्भमा कम लागतमा उच्च गुणस्तरको बिजुली उत्पादन गर्ने आयोजना नेपाल भित्रै खपत हुने गरेर प्राथमिकरण गर्ने सन्दर्भमा र नेपाल राज्यले राजश्व गुमाएर भारतमा सस्तो बिजुली आपूर्ति गर्ने व्यवस्था सच्याइएर बिद्युत बिधेयकले सांच्चिकै नागरिक सर्बोच्चता कायम गर्न सफल होस् भन्ने यो पंक्तिकार कामना गर्न चाहन्छ ।
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
२०६६ माघ ७ गतेको गोरखापत्रमा प्रकाशित

Monday, January 18, 2010

[NNSD] Declaration of autonomous states/provinces

December 27, 2009
Mahendra Lawoti, Ph.D.
Associate Professor,
Department of Political Science,
Western Michigan University,

Dear Mahendrajee

I had raised 5 important issues in respect of your article on "MYTH OF NON-ETHNIC FEDERALISM". But you have reverted back to me only on the issue with regard to Nepal potentially needing to spin off into 100 odd "states" on the ethno-cultural-linguistic lines by saying that "all groups have not demanded 'territorial' autonomy".

I have two queries in this respect:
  • Simply because others groups have not demenaded for it, is it democratic to grant autonomous status to only 10 odd ethno-cultural-linguistic groups while depriving the same right to other 90 odd ethno-cultural-linguistic groups?" Isn't it discriminatory?
  • Initially other "ethno-cultural-linguistic groups" may not demand states/provinces of their own? Once a precedent is set, what will stop the remaining groups from asking for equal treatment? Won't that take a form of beginning of an unraveling process? Shouldn't Nepal learn lessons from the experience of India which is in a continuous state of throwing up new autonomous state? Will Nepal be able to sustain the shock/trauma of fragmentation of Nepal into state after state on ethno-cultural-linguistic lines?

With best regards,

Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA
Senior Water Resource Analyst

From: Mahendra Lawoti []
Sent: Thursday, December 24, 2009 19:09
To:; Ratna Sansar Shrestha
Subject: FW: [NNSD] Declaration of autonomous states/provinces FYI.
I forgot to copy Dear Professor Lohani, Thank you for your note. Apologies for the late response - grading (semester end) and a couple of deadlines had kept me busy. My apologies for sending this note to you and others directly as well as my posting even in this thread have not been posted earlier in this day and age of democracy as well.

Shivaji asked for clarification on the presented data and I was more than happy to provide it for him to understand more clearly the arguments of the article. Shivaji, in fact, called me after he heard from you and others. I hope things are clearer to more people now.
Happy new year to you as well.

Now let me make brief comments to a few other postings.

Dear Shivaji,
This is my small attempt at deconstructing conscious and unconscious 'Data Torturing,' 'Analysis Terror,' cognitive dissonance issue and data manufacturing that exists in Nepal. Some people continue to engage in such things, knowingly or unknowingly, and because of that they were totally surprised when the Madhesi movement appeared in 2007 and the Maoists won in 2008, just a couple of examples. If you are interested to read my further take on those matters please see my 'Federal State-building: Challenges in Framing the Nepali Constitution,' Bhrikuki Academic Publications, 2009.

Dear Pandayji,

Thank you for reading my write ups in the newspapers. Please bear with a few clarifications. One, my points about media bias is on issues. Your rebuttal is like arguing that since Binod Chaudhary is rich, Nepalis are rich. Showing exceptions do not disprove a point, or mixing up issues with persons.

Second, I do not lump all Bahuns together - that is why I add adjectives when I have to use the term. I have praised many enlightened Bahuns and I have higher hopes on the younger generation (but of course not on all of them, again!). The point about self declared liberals and progressive is that self declaration does not make one - Prachanda, Gyanendra, G P Koirala, MK Nepal and many others claim that they are democrats but people know who is one and who is not. And of course, you are entitled to have any opinion about me, rightly or wrongly - that is your right, which I respect, in a democracy.

Third, I understand that there are misgivings in Limbuwan among non-Limbus, whether due to misunderstanding or because it is a 'new' structure. My visits to the region however show that it has been decreasing among people living in the region (I do not claim to know about the fear of people living in Kathmandu or beyond). The challenge is for the Limbuwan activists is to demonstrate that everyone is welcome and I think they have begun to demonstrate that by inducting/electing Bahuns and others in their organizations (one is the general secretary in one of the outfits as well).

Dear Ratnaji,

My aim was not to sway from your convictions. I believe in diversity - life would be monotonous without it. However, in case you are interested to find out answers to your concerns that you have pointed out, I have addressed most of them in my book "Towards a Democratic Nepal: Inclusive Political Institutions for a Multicultural Society," (Sage, 2005; fifth reprint 2008). Just one small point on fact - all groups have not demanded 'territorial' autonomy as you assume - Himali Pradesh is the demand of many northern groups while Madhesh is the demand of many linguistic groups in Tarai.

Dear Sumanji and Basantaji,

I hope you do not consider Switzerland, Canada, Belgium etc. that have ethnic federalism as medieval.

Happy new year to all
Best, Mahendra
Mahendra Lawoti, Ph.D.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The real fast track

We should be looking to electric trains, not another road, to solve our transport problems

It takes about six to seven hours to reach Pathlaiya in the Tarai from Kathmandu, a distance of under 70 kilometres as the crow flies. Although Pathlaiya lies due south of the capital, we detour over 100km to the west to Mugling before heading back east through Narayangarh to reach Pathlaiya. No wonder, then, that the idea of a fast track road has been mooted for some time.

The debate got off to a rather ludicrous start, with some proposing connecting Hetauda to Kathmandu through a set of tunnels. Besides tunneling being exorbitantly costly and dangerous given Nepal’s fragile geology, it would have been a veritable death trap with the quality of vehicles that ply our nation’s roads. This ‘tunnel vision’ was then supplanted by the proposal to build a fast track road following a feasibility study by the Asian Development Bank.

The hype and assumptions surrounding the North-South Fast Track Project, however, have obscured a much more appealing and sensible option – an electric train service linking Kathmandu to the Tarai.

The first assumption here is that a fast track road really will be fast. But with design speeds of 80km/h (50 km/h in mountainous terrain), it doesn’t even come close to magnetic levitation trains that can reach 581 km/h. High-speed trains have already been in use for a long time: bullet trains in Japan average 262 km/h in Japan, and the train from Beijing to Lhasa reaches 160 km/h on the plains, slowing down to 120 km/h in the Qinghai-Tibet section. Faster and more cost-effective technology is already available in our neighbourhood. According to a 1995 U.S. Government estimate, the energy cost of transporting a ton of freight a distance of one kilometer averages 337 kJ for water, 221 kJ for rail, and 2000 kJ for trucks. It doesn’t make sense for Nepal to go for wheel-based transport when she doesn't produce a drop of fossil fuel, and trains running on fossil fuels would save 89% in costs. Electric trains are an even better proposition, as they would draw on our hydro-potential, reduce our dependency, and eliminate the annual fossil fuel consumption on the Kathmandu-Pathlaiya route of 120,000 kilolitres.

The knock-on effects of cutting fossil fuel consumption, quite apart from the obvious benefits on health and productivity, would be that Nepal would curtail itsemissions of greenhouse gases by 321,000 tons a year. Trading this carbon offset could be worth US$3.2 million a year.

Electric trains may seem like a fantasy for a country as impoverished as Nepal. But while the North-South Fast Track Project is estimated to cost Rs 69.11 billion, a study conducted by Shankar Nath Rimal and Birendra Keshari Pokhrel reveals an electric train service connecting Kathmandu to the Tarai would cost just Rs 18.46 billion. While the investment of Rs 69 billion would be just for the road, the costs of the electric train service are inclusive of the track and the rolling stock to run on it. The savings of Rs 50 billion could be invested in setting up electric train services in other areas. Land use is another point on which electric trains trump roads. The fast track road would have four lanes with a width of 21 metres. Encroachment on this scale in hilly terrain is inadvisable in view of the high potential for landslides. But a track for an electric train would only be 11 metres wide. Besides, capacity enhancement means totally different things for roads and rail tracks. While roads can only be widened, with increased costs and risks, electric train capacity enhancement can be achieved by simply increasing the frequency of train services or the number of trains.

What of the customers who are to benefit from the fast track road? Both options save on commuter and cargo time, though electric trains will (as noted above) be significantly faster. Alas, it’s assumed commuters will continue to pay the same fare as now, although service providers will save substantially. It is estimated electric train fares will cost just a third of bus fares. With in-train restaurants and restrooms, travel need no longer be disrupted, and even wireless internet could be installed. And as we know too well, inaugurations of new roads are inevitably followed by a rise in accidents. With electric trains, urbanisation can be planned around stations and driver error can be reduced with automation and remote control, reducing the frequency of accidents. Nepal’s future is electric, given the comparative advantage we have in hydroelectric potential. Unfortunately for us, every time a reference is made to transportation, our policymakers and bureaucrats start digging up roads. We are building a new Nepal and an oxymoron such as the North-South Fast Track Project doesn’t deserve the attention it has received, let alone the funding.
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
Published in Nepali Times # 485 (January 15-21, 2010)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

राष्ट्रियताको कसीमा पंचेश्वर आयोजना

पंचेश्वर आयोजना बनेमा बिजुलीबाट ४५ अर्ब ८७ करोड कार्बन उत्सर्जन बिस्थापनबाट ४ अर्ब ४२ करोड अनि िसंचाईबाट ५ अर्ब ६९ करोड र मत्स्य पालनबाट १६ अर्ब रुपैंयालले नेपाल लाभान्वित हुने भनिएको हौवा मात्र हो भन्ने सिद्ध भई सकेकोछ । यो आयोजना सम्बन्धमा केहि अरु पाटाहरु पनि केलाउन र उजागर गर्न आवश्यक छ ।

बाढी पहिरो नियन्त्रण
यो आयोजना अन्तर्गत जलाशय निर्माण गर्दा वर्षायाममा पर्ने अत्यधिक वर्षातले ल्याउने बाढी पहिरोको विभिषिकाबाट तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्र जोगिन्छ वर्षातको पानी नदीमा त्यत्तिकै बगेर नगई जलाशयमा जम्मा हुने हुनाले । अर्थात आयोजना निर्माण सम्पन्न भएपछि महाकाली नदीको तल्लो तटीय क्षेत्रमा बाढी आउंदैन पहिरो जाँदैन । बाढी पहिरोको नियन्त्रणबाट स्थानिय बासिन्दा घर जग्गा वाली नाली वस्तुभाउ कल-कारखाना पूर्वाधार संरचना आदि बाढीको चपेटामा नपर्ने मात्र होइन स्थानिय बासिन्दा अकाल मृत्यबाट पनि जोगिन्छन् । यस अतिरिक्त बाढी पछि पुनःस्थापना र पुनर्वासमा लाग्ने खर्च पनि जोगिन्छ । तर यसबाट नेपाल र भारतलाई के कति लाभ हुन्छ भन्ने सम्बन्धमा आयोजनाका प्रणेताहरुले आकलन गरेका छैनन् । महाकाली नदी नेपालको सुदूर पश्चिममा अवस्थित हुनाले नेपालको भूभाग बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट १० प्रतिशत जतिले मात्र लाभान्वित हुन्छ भने काचनपुरबाट दक्षिण बग्दा भौगोलिक कारणले भारतको धेरै नैं भूभागमा बाढी पहिरो नियन्त्रण हुन्छ र ९० प्रतिशत जतिले लाभान्वित हुन्छ ।

बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट के कति रकम बराबर नेपालमा तथा भारतमा लाभ हुन्छ आकलन हुन आवश्यक छ र नेपाल भन्दा भारत बढी लाभान्वित हुने हुनाले यसरी अतिरिक्त लाभान्वित भएबापतको रकम नेपालले पाउनु पर्छ । स्मरणिय के छ भने बाढी नियन्त्रण त्यत्तिकै चटक गरे जसरी हुने होइन जलाशय निर्माणमा नेपालको भूभाग ४३ प्रतिशत ८ हजार ७ सय हेक्टर जग्गा र भारतको ५७ प्रतिशत डुबाएर तथा ६५ हजार स्थानिय नेपाली नागरिकलाई बिस्थापित गरेर हुने हो । त्यसकारण ५७ प्रतिशत सम्म बाढी नियन्त्रणको लाभमा भारतको स्वयमेव हक लाग्छ भने त्यस भन्दा बढी बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट भारत लाभान्वित हुने हुनाले नेपालको हकलाग्ने बढी जतिको रकम भारतले नेपाललाई उपलब्ध गराउनु पर्छ नेपालले दाबी गर्न सक्नु पर्छ । अन्यथा यो आयोजना बनाउनुमा नेपालको हिसाबले खास उपादेयता छैन नेपालको राष्ट्रि्य हित प्रतिुकूल हुनेछ । यस प्रयोजनको लागि संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका र क्यानाडा बीच सम्पन्न कोलम्बिया सन्धीले प्रतिपादित गरेको सिद्धान्त अवलम्बन गर्न सकिन्छ । यदि भारत आफ्नो हक भन्दा बढी बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट लाभान्वित भएबापत रकम नेपाललाई दिन तैयार नभएमा नेपालले आफ्नो भूभागमा बाढी नियन्त्रण गर्न आवश्यकता अनुसार मात्र बाँधको उचाई कायम गरेर नेपालको कम जमिन मात्र डुबानमा पर्ने गरेर र कम मात्र नेपाली जनता बिस्थापित हुने गरेर आयोजना निर्माण गर्नु पर्छ ।

समष्टिगत रुपमा लाभ हानीको आकलन
कुनै पनि मृगमरिचिको पछि दौड्नु पक्कै बुद्धिमानि हुन्न । यो आयोजना बनाउंदा समष्टिगत रुपमा नेपाल तथा भारतले नगद मात्रै नभएर जग्गा जमिन लगायतका जिन्सी पनि लगानि गर्नाको अतिरिक्त जनता बिस्थापनमा के कति गुमाउंनु पर्छ र अनि के कति तरिकाबाट लाभान्वित हुन्छ आकलन गरेर नेपालको हकको लाभ भारतले प्राप्त गरेको हद सम्म नेपालले रकम पाउने व्यवस्था हुनु वान्छनिय छ । सन्धीको धारा ३ को उपधारा ३ अनुरुप लगानिको अनुपातमा बिजुलीबाट सम्बन्धित देशले लाभ लिने हुनाले िसंचाई तथा बाढी नियन्त्रणको लाभ डुबानमा गुमाएको भूभागको आधारमा बांडफांट गरिनुपर्छ ।

नेपाललाई धेरै लाभ भारतलाई हानी
भारतीयहरुले महाकाली सन्धी र पंचेश्वर आयोजनाबाट नेपाललाई धेरै लाभ र भारतलाई हानी छ भन्यो रे भनेर दंग पर्ने नेपाली पनि भेटिएका छन् । बराबरीको सिद्धान्तमा सम्पन्न भनिएको महाकाली सन्धी अन्तर्गत नेपालमा ९३ हजार हेक्टर मात्र जमिन िसंचाई हुने र भारतको १६ लाख हेक्टर भूमि िसंचित हुने व्यवस्था हुंदा पनि नेपाललाई धेरै लाभ भारतलाई हानी छ भन्ने धारणा राख्ने भारतीयहरु कस्ता भन्नु भन्दा यस्तो कुरा पत्याउने नेपालीको बौद्धिकतामा दया गर्नै पर्ने हुन्छ । माथि वर्णन गरिएको तथ्यको पृष्ठभूमिमा यसो भन्ने भारतीयको मनसायमाथि पनि शंका गर्नपर्ने हुन्छ भने यस्तो कुरा पनि पत्याउनाले नेपालमा बौद्धिक दरिद्रताग्रस्तहरुको कमी रहेनछ भन्ने पनि बुझ्नुपर्ने हुन्छ । विषेश गरेर जलाशय निर्माण गर्नको लागि नेपालले ४३ प्रतिशत भूभाग डुबानमा पारेर ५ प्रतिशत मात्र सुख्खायाममा िसंचाई गर्ने र भारतले ५७ प्रतिशत भूभाग डुबानमा पारेर ९५ प्रतिशत िसंचाई गर्ने हुनाले । अझ भारत बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट समेत ९० प्रतिशतले लाभान्वित हुने हुनाले भारतलाई हानी छ भन्ने कुरा पत्याउन थुपै्र "हाजमोला" खानु पर्ने हुन्छ ।

भारतीयहरुको एउटा राम्रो पक्ष के छ भने उनीहरु आफ्नो देशको हितका लागि र राष्ट्रिय स्वार्थ सम्बद्र्धन गर्न मोही माग्दा ढुंग्रो लुकाउन पनि पछि पर्दैनन्, अपवाद स्वरुप वाहेक । भारतमा बिजुली निकासी गरेर नेपाल धनी हुने गुरुमन्त्र नेपालका धेरै राजनीतिकर्मी कर्मचारीलाई दान गरेर सफलतापूर्वक भ्रान्ती छरेकाछन् कतिपय भारतीयले । तर निर्वतमान भारतीय जलश्रोत मन्त्री सैफुदिन सोज जस्ता इमान्दार स्पष्टवक्ता अपवादस्वरुप बिरलै मात्र भेटिन्छन् भारतमा, जसले सार्वजनिकरुपमा स्वीकारेका छन् कि भारतको प्राथमिकता बाढी नियन्त्रण र िसंचाई हो र बिजुली भनेको फोसा मात्र हो (सायद यहि कारणले उनी वर्तमान मन्त्रीमण्डलमा परनेन!) ।

अर्कोतिर अधिकांश नेपालीहरु सरल र जोसुकैले जे भने पनि पत्याइ हाल्ने खालका छन् । नेपालमा पटक पटक एमालेको तर्फबाट मन्त्री भईसकेका भरतमोहन अधिकारीले महाकाली सन्धी भारतको हितमा छैन भन्ने भारतीयहरुको भनाई पत्याएर र सोहि कुरा "मेरो जीवन यात्रा ः केहि सम्झनाहरु" नामक पुस्तकमा उल्लेख गरेकाछन् । माथिको विष्लेशनबाट सिद्ध भईसकेकोछ कि सापेक्षरुपमा भन्दा पनि बढी महाकाली सन्धी भारतको हितमा छ भने नेपालको हितमा छ भन्ने आधार चािहं परालको कुन्युमा सियो खोजे झैं खोज्न पर्ने अवस्था छ ।

हेरि ल्याउंदा भारतीयले यस्तो भन्नु जायज पनि देखिन्छ । किनभने, उदाहरणको लागि, पश्चिम सेतीको जलाशय निर्माण गर्न भारतले एक इन्च पनि जमिन तिलान्जली दिनु पर्दैन र आफ्नो १ जना पनि नागरिक बिस्थापित गर्न पर्दैन तर िसंचाईबाट भने भारत शतप्रतिशत लाभान्वित हुने तारतम्य मिलेमिलाइएको अवस्था छ । तर पंचेश्वर आयोजनाको लागि ५७ प्रतिशत जमिन तिलांजली दिएर मात्र भारतले ९४ प्रतिशत िसंचाईबाट र ९० प्रतिशत बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट लाभान्वित हुने भएकोछ । यसबाट पनि महाकाली सन्धी सम्पन्न गर्ने यस्तो आयोजनाको समर्थनमा समय खर्चने बृत्तले नेपाल र नेपालीको के कति हित चिताएकाछन् भन्ने स्पष्ट हुन्छ ।

दुख त केमा लाग्छ भने जम्माजम्मी ३ पृष्ठको सन्धी पढेर नहेरी केहि नेपाली बुद्धिजीविहरु कागको पछाडी बिना बित्था दौडंदा रहेछन् भन्ने बुझ्दा । ग्रह नक्षत्र मात्रै नभएर आकाश गंगामा नैं मानव वस्ती बसाउने खालको बिज्ञान यो सन्धीमा छैन । ध्यान दिएर पढेर अलिकति भएको बुद्धि खियाउने हो भने अप्राविधिक व्यक्तिले पनि सजिलै बुझ्न सक्छ । तर नेपालका वर्तमान र पूर्व मन्त्री, कर्मचारीतन्त्र, अनि धेरै जसो बुद्धिजीवि समेत नपढीकनै लहलहैमा लाग्ने गरेको देखिन्छ । उच्च शिक्षा हासिल गर्ने अवसरबाट बंचित नेपालीलाई यी सुशिक्षित जमातले यथार्थ कुरा अवगत गराउनुपर्नेमा आफै कुहिरोको काग भएर िहंडेको देख्दा यिनको शिक्षादिक्षामा राज्यले गरेको लगानि निष्फल भएको भान पर्छ । प्रार्थना गरौं यिनको बौद्धितामा परेको ग्रहणबाट चांडै मुक्ति मिलोस ।

सम्पन्न सन्धीहरु मध्ये उत्कृष्ट
एउटा तप्कालॆ अहिले सम्म सम्पन्न सन्धीहरु मध्ये महाकाली सन्धी उत्कृष्ट छ भनेको पनि पाइयो । स्पष्ट छ बिजुलीबाट लगानिको अनुपातमा प्रतिफल पाउन लाभान्वित हुन सन्धी नैं गर्न पर्दैन नेपाल भित्रै वा अन्यत्र पनि लगानिको आधारमा बिजुली माथि हक हुन्छ र तद्अनुरुप लगानिमा प्रतिफल प्राप्त हुन्छ गरेकाछन् । नदी नाला सम्बन्धमा नेपालको हित भयो कि भएन भन्ने परिक्षण िसंचाई र बाढी नियन्त्रणको परिप्रेक्षबाट गर्न मात्र सकिन्छ ।

कोशी र गण्डक सन्धीहरुबाट नेपालले धेरै गुमाएको सम्बन्धमा उपरोक्त बिचारकहरु सहमत भएको देखिन्छ । तर अन्य कुरामा नराम्रो भएतापनि पानीको दृष्टिकोणले यी सन्धीहरुले नेपालको स्वार्थ सम्बद्र्धन गर्न धेरै हदसम्म सफल रहेको कतिपय नेपालीलाई ज्ञात नभएको देखिन्छ । गण्डक सन्धीको धारा ९ अनुसार नेपालले आफ्नो आवश्यकता परिपूर्ति गर्न चाहिए जति पानी उपयोग गरेर बाँकी मात्र भारतको लागि छोडे हुन्छ । तर यस धाराको प्रतिबंधात्मक वाक्यांशले यस नदीको जलाधार क्षेत्रबाट अन्य नदीको जलाधार क्षेत्रमा पानी लग्न भने प्रतिबन्ध लगाएकोछ । त्यस्तै कोशी सन्धीको धारा ४ अनुसार नेपालले आफ्नो आवश्यकता परिपूर्ति गर्न चाहिए जति पानी उपयोग गरेर बाँकी मात्र भारतको लागि छोडे हुन्छ । साथै यस नदीको जलाधार क्षेत्रबाट अन्य नदीको जलाधार क्षेत्रमा पानी लग्न पनि प्रतिबन्ध लगाएकोछैन । यस्तो प्रतिबन्ध नलागेको हुनाले कोशी नदीका धेरै सहायक नदीहरु मध्येको मेलम्चीको पानी बागमतीको जलाधार क्षेत्र काठमाडौं उपत्यकामा ल्याउन सम्भव भएकोछ, सप्त गण्डकीको सहायक नदी मध्येका त्रिशुलीको उदाहरणार्थ पानी काठमाडौं ल्याउन प्रतिबन्धित छ । तर महाकालीको आधा पानीमा नेपालको हक लाग्छ भनिएतापनि वर्षातको पानीमा ३.५ प्रतिशत मात्र हक कायम गरिएकोछ भने नेपालको ४३ प्रतिशत भूभाग डुबानमा पारेर संचित भई सुख्खायाममा उपलब्ध हुने पानीमा ५ प्रतिशत मात्र हक लाग्ने व्यवस्था भएको कुरा माथि उल्लेख भई सकेकोछ । तसर्थ पानी माथिको हकको हिसाबबाट महाकाली सन्धी निकृष्ट हो भने कोशीलाई उत्कृष्ट मान्न पर्ने हुन्छ ।

हौवा फैलाईएका रकमहरु नपाइने, नेपालले ८ हजार ७ सय हेक्टर भन्दा बढी भूभाग (४३ प्रतिशत) डुबाएर संचित गरेको पानीबाट ५ प्रतिशत मात्र लाभान्वित हुने, बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट १० प्रतिशत मात्र लाभान्वित हुने हुनाले यो आयोजना कार्यान्वयन गर्नमा अग्रसर हुन आवश्यक देखिन्न । बिजुलीको हकमा लगानिको अनुपातमा मात्र लाभ पाइने, जुन काम नेपाल भित्र वा अन्यत्र जलबिद्युत क्षेत्रमा वा अन्य कुनै क्षेत्रमा लगानि गरेर पनि प्रतिफल पाउन सकिन्छ आफ्नो भूभाग तिलांजली नदिईकनै । बिद्युत उत्पादन पनि यति टाढा गर्दा खपत गर्ने ठाउंमा पुर् याउन्जेल प्राविधिक चुहावटबाट धेरै नोक्सान हुने हुनाले बढी खपत हुने क्षेत्र नजिकै लगानि गर्दा नैं बढी फाइदा हुनेछ ।

यस हिसाबले पनि यो आयोजना कार्यान्वयन गरेर नेपाल समुचित रुपमा लाभान्वित हुने अवस्था छैन र राष्ट्रियता सम्बर्धन पनि हुन्न । अहिले नेपालको राष्ट्रियताको सन्बन्धमा कुन राजनैतिक दल बढी कटिबद्ध छ भन्ने व्यापक चर्चा भईरहेको परिप्रेक्ष्यमा महाकाली सन्धी र पंचेश्वर आयोजना सम्बन्धमा यी दलहरुले बनाएको अवधारणाको आधारमा राष्ट्रियताको कसीमा यी दलहरुलाई घोटरे परिक्षण गर्ने बेला आएकोछ । शुभेच्छा दिउं ठूला भनिएका दलहरु खरो उत्रने छन् ।
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
२०६६ पौष ३० गतेको गोरखापत्रमा प्रकाशित

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Re: [NNSD] My article on "fast" track

January 12, 2010
Arun Sharma
Phoenix, AZ


You must have meant to ask: does a train fully substitute road transport?

Nepal isn’t US. US is rich not only financially but also in fossil fuel. Besides, she can afford to emit ¼ of world GHG emission but not Nepal. Nepal is rich in water resources (but does not possess a drop of fossil fuel) and she can benefit by optimum exploitation of it but not by perpetuating the dependency syndrome on fossil fuel thereby causing balance of trade deficit, balance of payment deficit to haunt her for ever (also forcing NOC to incur ever increasing loss). Having both is not the best use of resource of a country like Nepal. However, from the technical perspective a service track will have to be built which will not be able to cope as MRT, though.

In the cities and suburbs we can continue to have road network but we should plan to have only hybrid (if not entirely electric) vehicles ply. The better mode of MRT on these roads will be trolley buses instead of smoke belching buses. Because, Nepal won’t be able to have subways like you have in US due to poor geology (underground – tunneling and lining the tunnels becoming exorbitantly costly) and weak superstructure over-ground (houses will not be able to withstand thundering subways underground). Continuing on this vein, we should think of setting up cable cars and ropeways instead of blasting fragile hills to carve out roads to pollute the pristine environment of such hills and create new and bigger Krishna Bhirs and Jogimaras.

From the perspective of carbon footprint, electric transport system in US still causes pollution to an extent, as it only displaces tail pipe emission while continuing with smoke stack from power generation plants. In Nepal electrification of transport does indeed eliminate carbon footprint.

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. This too impels us to electrify our transport as much as possible.

Availability of both modes of transport becomes important from the perspective of those who cherish their mobility even after reaching a destination afforded by their own vehicle. We should plan to have provision to transport private vehicles in the electric train itself.

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha,

From: [] On Behalf Of Arun Sharma
Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 20:12
Subject: Re: [NNSD] My article on "fast" track

Ratna Shrestha-ji,T

hanks for your article. Does a train FULLY substitute a train? US experience- it does not. May be we need both?

Best wishes,
Arun Sharma
Phoenix, AZ

Monday, January 11, 2010

RE: Congrats for your article on Fast Track

January 12, 2010
Prof.Mohan Lohani

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

-----Original Message-----

From: Mohan Lohani []

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,

Prof.Mohan Lohani

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fast Track Mere Illusion - Neither “Fast” Nor Suitable

Even in 21st century, it takes more than 6/7 hours to reach Pathlaiya in Tarai from Kathmandu, a distance of under 70 kilometers as the crow flies. Before Mugling on Prithvi Highway was connected with Narayangarh on East West Highway, it was an arduous trip of, sort of, a whole day winding up and down steep hills. Although, Pathlaiya lies due south from Kathmandu, people now have to take a detour of over 100 km to Mungling, due west, and then retrace almost the same distance back from Narayangarh, heading east, to reach Pathlaiya. In this backdrop, people have been exploring possibility of shaving off the distance, and, also, time from such trips since some time.

Tunnel Highway to Hetauda
At one point in time, people were embroiled in a debate about connecting Hetauda from Kathmandu through a set of tunnels. Besides tunneling being exorbitantly costly (due to fragile geology of Nepal’s “young mountain”), it would have “served” as a veritable death trap, as plying the vehicles being used in Nepal’s roads now, would have resulted in asphyxiation of the passengers by the carbon monoxide, spewed by these vehicles, in the tunnels; proving that the idea is a product of “tunnel vision.” Then the powers to be decided to build, a so called, fast track road, after a feasibility study was completed on the auspices of Asian Development Bank.

Will Fast Track be “Fast”?
Now people are busy talking about fast track; forgetting (or failing to understand) that it will not be fast in reality. The design speed of this road is stated to be 80 kilometer per hour (km/h); 50 km/h in mountainous terrain. Maglev (magnetic levitation)[1] train is the newest form of surface transport mode, the highest recorded speed of which is 581 km/h. In China, the trip from Shanghai to the airport – a distance of 30 km – is covered in just 7 minutes 20 seconds, achieving a top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph), averaging 250 km/h. High speed trains have already been in use since a long time in many countries; bullet train’s best average speed is 262 km/h in Japan. Similarly, train to Lhasa travel at 160 km/h on the plain, slowing down to 120 km/h when it reaches the Qinghai-Tibet section.

Therefore, with faster and more cost effective technology already becoming available in our own neighborhood, it isn’t prudent to go for a technology that is not really fast, in the name of fast track. Nepal should use the most cost effective technology and mode of mass rapid transportation (MRT) system from amongst array of modes now in use in the world. The cost effectiveness should be measured in terms of life cycle cost, including net of positive and negative externalities of the mode and technology (including carbon emission and its local negative externalities in terms of adverse impact on health).

In view of this an attempt is being made in this article to evaluate electric train from Kathmandu to Tarai and the so called fast track and assess which mode will be best suited from the perspective of the macro economy and the commuters.

Fuel Efficiency
Even if Nepal had been endowed with a large mineral reserve of fossil fuel, it would have made economic sense to switch to rail transport instead of wheel based transport as, according to a 1995 U.S. Government estimate, the energy cost of carrying one ton of freight a distance of one kilometer averages 337 kJ for water, 221 kJ for rail, 2,000 kJ for trucks[2]. Therefore, it demonstrates downright lack of vision for Nepal to be dependent on fossil fuel for wheel based transport when (a) she doesn’t produce a drop of fossil fuel and (b) it costs just 11 percent of fuel cost of wheel based transport for train service – a saving of 89% in fuel cost. By going for train using fossil fuel Nepal could have put MRT in place and also saved 89% on fuel cost; resulting in commensurate reduction in losses suffered by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) as well as reduction of balance of trade and balance of payment deficit (also stemming unnecessary drain on foreign currency).

Moreover, for Nepal, the best policy is to use energy sources for transport other than fossil fuel. In other words, in the interest of self reliance too, a country like Nepal should have gone for transportation mode that is not dependent on fossil fuel which has to be transported from aboard. That is, the best mode of MRT for Nepal is electric train service; weaning Nepal away from dependency on imported fossil fuel (a firm step towards self reliance) and also availing transport service to the users at substantially lower cost (as energy cost of rail is one-ninth of wheel based transport). With the new technology of regenerative braking system becoming available, electric train can, further, be operated at lower energy cost.

It is estimated that the vehicles currently plying in Kathmandu-Pathalaiya route use about 10,000 kiloliters (kl) fuel each month (120,000 kl annually); and growing steadily. With the construction of fast track, the current fuel consumption will be reduced by 35% (in present route) – a reduction of 42,000 kl in a year. However, if electric train is to be built, the fossil fuel consumption of 120,000 kl will completely be eliminated thereby stemming drain on foreign exchange to that extent and, consequently also reducing loss suffered by NOC as well as balance of trade and balance of payment deficits of the country.

Besides, as petroleum product is a strategic commodity and any unfriendly act on the part of our neighbor have had crippling effect and the dependency has proven to be fatal. The trade embargo and blockade of transit imposed by India in late 80s succeeded in bringing Nepal’s economy to a grinding halt. From this perspective too, Nepal’s transport policy needs to be focused on self sufficiency; especially when Nepal has high potential for electricity generation.

Carbon Offset
If Nepal’s consumption of fossil fuel is to go down by 120,000 kl each year, as mentioned above, then Nepal will succeed in curtailing its emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 321,000 tons in a year; as 1 liter diesel emits about 2.68 kg of carbon dioxide.[3]By trading this quantum of carbon offset at the median rate of US$ 10/ton, Nepal could earn US $ 3.2 million which is equivalent to Rs 240 million at the exchange rate of Rs 75/USD. In such a scenario it isn’t wise to be building more roads dependent on fossil fuel and polluting more. Even at local level, the pollutants emitted by fossil fuel guzzling vehicles aversely impact people’s health; resulting in unnecessary medical expense and even absenteeism from work – reducing national productivity.

Capital cost
It has recently been reported that the fast track will cost about Rs 56 billion. However, according to the feasibility study and preliminary design prepared by Oriental Consultants Co. Ltd. in association with ITECO, for ADB, the cost of 4-lane “North South Fast Track Project” is Rs 69.11 billion, at the conversion rate of Rs 75/USD, as detailed below:

Cost estimate in million USD

On the other hand, in accordance with a study conducted by Messrs Shankar Nath Rimal and Birendra Keshari Pokhrel, renowned engineers, it costs only about Rs 18.46 billion to build electric train connecting Kathmandu with Tarai. Moreover, investment of Rs 69 billion is for the construction of just the road while Rs 18.46 billion spent on electric train is inclusive of track and the rolling stock to run on it. In this backdrop it doesn’t make sense for Nepal to chose “fast” track instead of electric train.

For a country like Nepal, investing Rs 69 billion just to build the road can in no case be deemed prudent when at just Rs 18.46 billion electric train service (inclusive of track and engines and bogeys to run on it) can be instituted. Nepal, instead, should invest the saving of Rs 50 billion in setting up electric train service in other areas.

Geological Encroachment – land use
The fast track is envisaged to have 4 lanes that will be 21 meters broad; as lesser number of lanes will slow down the traffic – defeating the very purpose. But encroachment of this scale in the hilly terrain is inadvisable in view of high potential for landslides that will be triggered by explosion undertaken to build the road. Whereas electric train will need only 11 meter.

Besides, capacity enhancement in future will only be possible by increasing the number of lanes; entailing further increases in the land requirement from 21 meter to 30 meter. This will be needed every 10 years. But in the case of electric train capacity enhancement will simply mean increasing frequency of the train service, adding bogeys on existing engines and eventually addition number of trains; two tracks will easily serve for more than 100 years.

Passenger Fare
The fast track has been deemed feasible on the condition that passengers continue to pay same fare as now, although service providers will be able to save substantially on fuel consumption, vehicle wear and tear, etc. Whereas, electric train will cost just about one-third of current bus fare. Therefore, from the perspective of passengers and cargo, electric train is better mode of MRT than fast track.

Facilities to Commuters
In the case of electric train there will be no need to disrupt travel for amenities like visits to restaurants and rest rooms. Additionally internet service can be availed by installing wireless in the passenger compartments. These will not be possible in the fast track.

With the opening of just a track of a future highway, people start building houses and shops along the alignment which results in unplanned urbanization with resultant constraints like lack of necessary services and amenities. In the case of electric train, urbanization can be pre-planned in and around train stations. The likely alignment of fast track has already been ravaged by speculative land prices which should not be allowed to go out of hand.

Upon completion of the fast track due to high probability of haphazard urbanization coupled with driver error, accident rate (and fatalities) will also sky rocket. However, in the case of electric train, with no haphazard urbanization possible, chances of accidents could easily be controlled. And driver error could be reduced in the case of electric trains with automation and remote control.

Commute time
Presently, cargo to Nepal is being transported part of the way in trains and some part in container trucks; entailing loading and unloading in a number of places (defined as transfer cost) and also requiring additional time (transport of a tanker of petroleum product from Raxaul to Amlekhgunj – a distance of about 25 km – takes about 20 hours). With electric train, cargo can directly be transported to Kathmandu, for example, from Kolkata or Mumbai, thereby avoiding transfer time and cost.

Transportation is not merely wheel based surface transport. Transportation is rather moving cargo and passengers from one place to other. The mode could be water based like ships. In surface transport, besides wheel based, it could be train and it even could be suspended in the air from cable like ropeway, cable car etc. Moreover, as Nepal enjoys high competitive/comparative advantage due to the potential for electricity generation in huge quantum, the best mode of transport for Nepal is electric train, ropeway, cable car etc. and even in the case of wheel based mode, she should opt for electric vehicles (including bikes) and even hybrid cars, instead of conventional fossil fuel guzzlers. Unfortunately for Nepal, the policy makers and bureaucrats are unable to see beyond their collective noses and every time a reference is made to transportation, they start digging up roads. However, it has been amply demonstrated above that electric train is the best mode of MRT for Nepal, instead of so called “fast” track.

Moreover, as the policy makers are already talking of train service in north-south highways, Prithvi highway, east west highway, and even connecting Kathmandu with Khasa in Tibet by train, it doesn’t make sense at all to be digging one more road in the name of “fast” track which is not fast in reality. Besides, from the perspective of fuel economy, carbon trading potential, capital cost, geological encroachment, passenger service and fare (including for cargo), travel time, planned urbanization along the alignment, possibility of reduced accident rate, etc. fast track isn’t appropriate for Nepal.

We are building a “new” Nepal and, if a transportation mode expected to be fast isn’t fast, then an oxymoron as such doesn’t deserve to be built in the new Nepal. We should rather go for electric train.

[1]It is a system of transportation that suspends, guides and propels vehicles, predominantly trains, using magnetic levitation from a very large number of magnets for lift and propulsion. This method has the potential to be faster, quieter and smoother than wheeled mass transit systems. The power needed for levitation is usually not a particularly large percentage of the overall consumption; most of the power used is needed to overcome air drag, as with any other high speed train.


Published in Vol. 1, Issue 3 (December 2009 – January 2010) of Greatway magazine

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Re: Vedr. Declaration of autonomous states/provinces

December 17, 2009
Er Krishna Aryal

Dear Krishnajee

It's not my analysis. It was conducted by IDA. I am told the methodology adopted for the purpose is impeccable.

I hold different sort of view on federalism which I have already made public (also uploaded in my blog). Therefore, we don't need to invest time to discuss it here.

The very problem lies in declaration of it "for publicity purposes", allowing people to call it publicity gimmick and even farce.

I again happen to hold different view with regard to COAS Katwal. I am student of law and have been working as such for almost 35 years and I happen to believe that the procedure followed by Prachanda was faulty. Without debating whether Katwal should or should not have been sacked, if PM Prachanda had recommended to the President for his sacking based on a cabinet decision, the President wouldn't have had any choice but to sack him. But Prachanda, sacked Katwal himself, I am sure based on the bad advice he had been getting, causing all this brouhaha - unnecessary and costly for the nation.

Federalism has already been enshrined in the Interim Constitution and we are bound to restructure Nepal into various provinces and it will be well neigh impossible to not to have federal structure. Therefore, simply saying that “Nepal should not be a federal state” doesn’t solve the problem. Actually this may beget more violence as UCPNM has put its prestige on line for “federal” Nepal.

On the other hand, having been studying the water resource sector in general and Nepal’s water resource sector in particular for quite a while, in my considered opinion, the optimum exploitation of water resource can only be achieved by taking a river basin approach. But this doesn’t seem to be possible in unitary Nepal – not at least from the experience so far. Further, Nepal’s future lies in her water resources and Nepal can easily be metamorphosed by achieving optimum exploitation of it in her own interest.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that we should have 3 provinces based on our three major river systems, viz. Sapta Koshi, Sapta Gandaki and Karnali. I have tentatively called them as follows: Sapta Koshi-Mechi Rajya, Sapta Gandaki Rajya and Karnali-Mahakali Rajya with Kathmandu valley and other minor river systems as federal territory and the capital. I have written an article on the subject which was published in the current issue Urja Nepal. You can peruse the full article at following webpage:

With best regards,


Ratna Sansar Shrestha

From: Krishna Aryal []
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 16:25
To: Ratna Sansar Shrestha
Subject: Vedr. Declaration of autonomous states/provinces

Dear Ratna Sansar jee,
Thank you for sharing your views with me as an "apolitical" person. Restructuring of Nepal into federal states is the aspiration of the internal constitution, 10-year people's war and the mandate of the majority people/parties. I agree that there are certain sectors of people who feel uncomfortable with the idea of state restructuring. Your analyses shows more opinion inclined to "not restructuring Nepal into federal states". However, I am not sure how realiable these figures are, how many people were involved, from which geographical location were these opinions collected. As we know, Kathmandu alone does not represent the whole Nepal.

The reasons could be many for those who are dissatisfied with the UCPNM action. But a decentralised policy provides authority to the state level to decide their development. It will definately help to delop the nation more rapidly and uplift the underdeveloped sector of population/region. For the purpose, it has to be well managed locally and well coordinated centrally. The state restructuring matter is an important matter and will be finalised from the CA if the present ruling forces keep the CA alive.

Of course, a question arrives why UCPNM started announcing the federal states now before the CA approval. As it has been said by the party that the declaration is symbolic and for publicity purposes. it is to mobilise poeple for the third fase of the protest programme. They are not claiming that it has got legitimate right after declaration and it will be the final. It has come under the third fase of protest programme against the unconstitutional move made by the President on the CoAS episode on the backing of foreign and inland reactionaries. This programme is aimed at to pressurise to the ruling forces to come to the consensus in the major national issues. If they decide to walk away on their way without taking into consideration to the revolutionary force, UCPNM who has 40% CA members, UCPNM is also forced to take its own path and mobilise the people for the possible peoples revolt.

The country should be restructured, but in what basis, is a matter of discussion. The names given now by UCPNM to a ethinicity may not be a scintific way, it can be altered if necessary. But if you think another way, it is just a name given for the due respect to the suppressed people. However, it is an important matter and the final decision will be from the CA as you said by 2/3 majority if the ruling forces do not desolve CA and impose a military rule.

It is a nice apotitical discussion, continue sharing in the future as well.

With regards,
Krishna Aryal

--- Den ons 2009-12-16 skrev Ratna Sansar Shrestha :
Fra: Ratna Sansar Shrestha Emne: Declaration of autonomous states/provincesTil: Undisclosed-Recipient@yahoo.comDato: Onsdag 16. desember 2009 09.38
Declaration of autonomous states/provinces