January 27, 2012
To: 'paras kharel'
Cc: 'Ratan Bhandari'; 'Keshab Poudel'; 'Dwarika Nath Dhungel'; 'Lila Mani Pokhrel'; 'Ek Raj Bhandari'; 'Kunda Dixit'; 'Ajaya Dixit'; 'Sanjay WECS Dhungel'; 'Dipak Gyawali'; 'Gopal Siwakoti 'Chintan''
I too am amazed that this sort of drivel could come from him. However, I now have no doubt that it could only come from him. As you have recalled his another piece of drivel published in Nagarik, I too remember that where he said:
• Let’s have them first build it, and if it isn’t in our interest we can bring it under our ownership – it has not be possible with Koshi, Gandaki, et al and how will it be possible with new ones?
• The project will come under GoN ownership after license period – he forgets that there is no point in marrying a girl and allow someone else to take her away in the hope that she will be returned in about 25 years (as DipakG has put eloquently several times). Especially as Nepal is starved for power right now as you have correctly pointed out.
• We can buy the power at the price the project is to export at – he seems to be ignorant of an instrument called “power purchase agreement” which is sine qua non for achieving financial closing and once such an instrument is executed the project will be under ironclad arrangement with regards to what is done with the power generated and won’t be able to sell to us even at double price.
• Once the project is built, Nepal will have upper hand – like the way Nepal is having upper hand in Koshi barrage (whose life has already come to an end) which is in effective control of India! He seems to have written that piece too losing sight of the ground reality completely.
I can show to him how off mark he is directly to him. But this will amount to private communication. However, as he brought out the claptrap to the general public, I too want to show him how wrong he is publicly. I am awaiting an opportunity.
This reminds me of another expert who apparently wrote in his book (I have not wasted my hard earned money to buy that book and spent my valuable time to read it) that Nepal’s GDP will equal that of Saudi Arabia if we export power and, unfortunately, he was extensively quoted, including by resident representative of the World Bank. He used to write for NT as well. I finally got an opportunity to write an article in NT mathematically disproving him. I personally forwarded my article to the World Bank RR. But she hasn’t responded as of yet.
All this reminds me of a very dirty (actually obscene) Hindi saying which ends by surmising that “if you look for one you will find thousands of them.” We, unfortunately, seem to have more than thousands of them.
With best regards,
Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA
Senior Water Resource Analyst
From: paras kharel [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 16:03
To: Dipak Gyawali; Gopal Siwakoti 'Chintan'
Cc: Ratan Bhandari; Ratna Sansar Shrestha; Keshab Poudel; Dwarika Nath Dhungel; Lila Mani Pokhrel; Ek Raj Bhandari; Kunda Dixit; Ajaya Dixit; Sanjay WECS Dhungel
Subject: Re: You are obliged to respond...
Thanks for sharing the article. I had not read it earlier.
He does not explain how loadshedding can be reduced by exporting hydropower. Why can't these projects be developed for domestic consumption? He has no answer.
This person had advanced a facile argument in one of his pieces in nagarik -- if we are able to consume the electricity produced by west seti, upper karnali, arun iii et al, then we can revoke the agreement to export electricity from these projects. such a childish argument. This argument means that he thinks that there is oversupply of electricity in Nepal. Or, if he does not think so, then why did he keep quiet when the agreement was signed? That would have a more compelling reason to resign (than the reason he cited for actually doing so in a huff later -- with contradictory statements). [By the way, he was finance secretary when salary and allowance were doled out to "missing" ladakus. Strangely, he saw nothing amiss in it warranting his resignation!].
He does not talk of the low export price of hydropower. If India is starving for electricity -- and it is -- it would surely be able to pay more than a meagre Rs 3 per unit.
He fails to mention that not all hydropower projects are alike (even a non-expert on this issue like myself -- a trade economist by training and profession -- knows as much) -- some generate power very cheap, some generate expensive power. The question is: should we not utilize domestically the cheaply produced power? But he does not consider this aspect.
He fails to mention that West Set was an export-oriented project.
As I said, I am no expert on water resources (you and a few others in this mail are), but it is sickening to note that this guy is ridiculing the argument that downstream benefits exist aplenty and that Nepal must get paid for the same merely on the basis of an unpublished WB report -- without looking at the assumptions that you mentioned are flawed. For a person who had declared upon his resignation that he would not seek any post or benefit and instead would resign to a simple life of teaching in a village school, he seems to be pretty pally with WB. he is privy to an unpublished report; means WB trusts him; may be this is a clever way of WB to influence the ostensibly marxist PM! and he goes on to write an article based on that. A powerful way of manufacturing consent. ordinary joes who read newspapers will believe what is says -- most of them, trust me! because ordinary jantas especially nepalis are -- you know what. they will certainly believe him -- more so when he happens to be a person felicitated by nagarik and republica.
What is the expertise of this guy actually? Water resource expert -- no. Economist -- no. Political scientist -- no. Media expert -- no. Management specialist/accountancy specialist -- no. But he writes as if he is an expert on all these areas and more. He is a Nepali expert -- that is someone who has been made an expert by the media. For an average Nepali, thus, Dipak Gyawali or Ajay Dixit or Ratna Sansar Shrestha are NOT water resource experts. For an average Nepali, R Khanal is -- since he has the forum, plain and simple.
There is a pattern here, in his advocacy -- BIPPA is a must (to attract investment), export-oriented hydropower projects should not be disrupted (so that we will be relieved of loadshedding!), and, now, there are little downstream benefits (worth arguing over).
From: Dipak Gyawali
To: Gopal Siwakoti 'Chintan'
Cc: Ratan Bhandari
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 2:46 PM
Subject: You are obliged to respond...
Here is a really idiotic piece of senile writing of an incomparable ignoramus that sees “phoren” and “project” as the only manna from heaven. He is merely advocating from the WB’s recent Ganges Basin Strategic Plan of SAWI that has been rejected by Nepali officials in the water ministry (or what remains of it after the parties have balkanized it). He has no idea of the poor assumptions that have gone into its making by SAWI and the geo-politics inherent in it. Amazing that such a person was even a finance secretary and one who sat on the NEA board. No wonder we have 14 hours of power cuts a day! I am not at all surprised.
Given that he is currently the Maoist PM’s advisor, I think it is incumbent upon you in particular to respond, also because the Kali Gandaki episode that he mis-portrays refers to you.
WATER DEBATE IN NEPAL
Missing the forest
RAMESHORE PRASAD KHANAL
Water debates in Nepal are invariably full of emotional overtones. Unsurprising then that water sharing and associated infrastructure development under Koshi and Gandak agreements have been subjects of heated political discussions. This is the case not just with the big cross-border projects. Smaller drinking water and irrigation projects at the community level too have resulted in bitter rancor in many places.
Whenever a large storage hydropower development is mooted, the first question that comes up for discussion concerns the downstream benefits and how one should monetize such benefits. But large hydro projects meant exclusively for exports have many components besides downstream benefits. One question raised time and again is why our neighbor should benefit from the hydropower that we produce. It is just like Germans asking why Americans should be riding BMWs that their company produces; but the Germans don’t ask such questions.
The ill-fated West-Seti Hydropower Project brought about a similar, though predictable, debate. Even after 14 years of trying, investors were unable to raise money from the financial markets. Eventually, their license was revoked. At one time, West-Seti appeared to be taking off, although there seemed to be little progress on the ground. Project offices were smashed and some officers beaten up.
There was a flurry of NGO activity around the proposed dam site telling people how bad the project was for the area. With West-Seti gone, no one visits the area and Nepali people continue to live in darkness. Now, local leaders and some people living in the area want the Project to be completed by the government, apparently by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
Some 150 kilometers west of the proposed West-Seti dam site, a hydro project about one-thirtieth the size of West-Seti has been under construction for the last six years. Yet it’s nowhere near completion. It might be another year (or two) for the project starts generating electricity. This is the pace of NEA infrastructure projects. Even if the government were to start the project now (assuming that close to US $2 billion of financing is easily available from friendly countries), a person my age will certainly not get to see it generating electricity in our lifetime.
Likewise, Arun III was aborted 18 years ago just when the construction was about to start. As of today, it’s still uncertain when construction work on the project will begin. Those opposing Arun III for various reasons, purportedly for the country’s good, closed their NGO business no sooner than the World Bank headquarters issued a communiqué stating that it is finally withdrawing its aid commitment to Arun.
Kaligandaki would have gone down the same road if community leaders of Sri Krishna Gandaki VDC of Syangja district had not driven away the Kathmandu-based NGO activists. One can only imagine the situation of load-shedding today if Kaligandaki had gone Arun’s way.
Not just hydropower projects, other large-scale endeavors have had to face similar problems. Take the Melamchi Drinking Water Project. After early hiccups, the World Bank, the project’s major co-financier, was the first to drop out, followed hot on the heels by Swedish Development Agency; the Norwegians too opted out. Asian Development Bank (ADB) kept its promise and stayed the course in spite of continued threats in project site and frequent written complaints by Nepali NGOs to Bank’s Accountability Unit.
According to these NGOs, by pursuing Melamchi Project, ADB was doing great injustice to the people of Melamchi area. Now, it has been 12 years since the ADB first approved the loan to Melamchi. The project is still struggling and the costs incurred due to the inordinate delays will ultimately have to be borne by Nepali people.
As a nation we are yet to develop a consensus on the best use of our enormous water potential. Ironically, we seem to prefer spending long hours every day without electricity. While we are still in a state of confusion, a study commissioned by the World Bank challenges—with evidence—most of the long-held beliefs on Himalayan watershed and river systems. The yet to be made public report has been shared in bits and pieces with a few key people in the region. Here are a few of its highlights.
According to the report, one, high dam in any of the river basins does not reduce flood risk downstream. Two, high dam and the resultant regulated water flow do not add much value to irrigation downstream either. Three, high dams do not control sedimentation. Four, hydropower is most significant benefit that any high dam can provide.
The report graphically shows that none of the worst floods in Bihar were the result of increased water flows in Koshi basin. Upstream water storage, no matter how tall a dam, would not prevent the recurring floods in the plains. There has to be an entirely different strategy for flood management through proper drainage systems, land zoning and most important of all proper early warning system to minimize human tragedy. This is where the cooperation of all the countries in the Ganges basin is necessary. To be precise, if we want to minimize human tragedy then Ganges water cannot just be a bilateral issue.
The report concludes that the annual precipitation in the Ganges basin is about 1,200 billion cubic- meter (BCM), of which Ganges runoff is only 500 BCM. Most of the rainwater seeps into the ground making underground water a viable and cheaper option for irrigation-on-demand in the plains.
Interestingly, most of all possible dams in the Ganges river systems (including the 23 large ones) can hold no more than 18 percent of the annual flow. This is paltry compared to what goes into recharging the underground water. All past debates focused on the likely downstream benefits, but new data indicates that maximum benefits are “under-stream”!
If we are to believe the WB report then hydropower development is the only significant benefit that Ganges water can provide. This is the benefit Nepal is losing out on by allowing drainage in the Bay of Bengal even as we continue to debate the upstream-downstream benefits and whether or not Nepal should export power.
Published on 2012-01-26 01:10:36