Saturday, December 29, 2012

Who is at fault for current political instability?

Dear Prof Lohani The fluid situation that we have today has to be firmly ascribed to the president for several reasons and he is the solely responsible for it. The way things are looking now he will have to keep on extending the deadline and in Ashadh 2070 he will accept another Ordinance for budget then the game will continue further. As the antonym of deadline is extension, extension of deadline week after week is like oxymoron. Subsequent to dissolution of CA the president declared Bhattarai care taker PM with alacrity but failed to call under Article 38(1) for a PM with executive authority. This is his single most damaging failure on his part. Then he started accepting a string of essential and non-essential ordinances including one arranging “Bonus” for himself after he demits the office of presidency. The latest blunder was to leave for India like a teacher leaving his students in a classroom with instructions for them to behave. He should have issued call under Article 38(1) immediately after declaring Bhattarai care taker PM and should have refused to promulgate any ordinance. Maybe due to this action on his part the country would have had been without a budget for a few days or a week. The citizenry of this country would have happily faced a few days without budget instead of the present torture of having care taker PM who is not only unable to anything but also is not allowed to do things. Let’s pray our Lord Pashupatinath that he give some prudence to these people. With best regards, Sincerely, Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA Senior Water Resource Analyst

Saturday, December 22, 2012

RE: Nepal pm on Hindustani auto

December 22, 2012 6:36 To: 'Mohan Lohani' Cc: 'Upendra Gautam'; 'Madan Regmi'; 'Madan Dahal'; 'madhukar'; 'Dwarika Nath Dhungel'; 'Dipak Gyawali'; 'Dr. Bal Kumar K. C.'; 'rajeshwar acharya'; 'Basanta Lohani' Dear Prof Lohani The crux of the tragedy we are facing lies in the superficiality in people’s comment. Priyanka Pani has got right in as much as the statement “Development of hydropower can overcome the current power shortage” is concerned. But development of hydropower in Nepal will not “overcome the current power shortage” in Nepal if the power generated is exported. The hydropower projects mentioned in the write-up are export-oriented and, hence, these aren’t being planned for mitigation of power shortage in Nepal. Rather they are to “overcome the current power shortage” India. I trust the intellectuals in Nepal are able to discern this particular but significant difference. Therefore, the likes of me are campaigning tooth and nail to abort these projects. We are not against these projects per se. meaning if these projects are developed not only to mitigate load shedding problem in Nepal but also to industrialize Nepal and electrify transportation, we will support these projects all out. With best regards, Sincerely, Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA Senior Water Resource Analyst From: Mohan Lohani [] Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 17:58 To: Upendra Gautam; Madan Regmi; Madan Dahal; madhukar; Ratna Sansar Shrestha; Dwarika Nath Dhungel; Dipak Gyawali; Dr. Bal Kumar K. C.; rajeshwar acharya; Basanta Lohani Subject: Re: Nepal pm on Hindustani auto Dear Dr.Gautam, Any layman knows well that development of hydropower can overcome the power shortage and could also generate revenues for Nepal.But how to translate this idea into action is our concern.Nepali PM has invited Indian investors to invest in hydropower sectors.There is nothing unusual about that.What are the terms on which they would like to invest and we are willing to sign the agreement? That is the crux of the problem.We have been talking about harnessing our water resources for over 5 decades and we have witnessed political changes from panchayat to parliamentary democracy and nobody knows what system is in store for hapless and helpless Nepalis.Load shedding hours,it is reported, are likely to be increased for 18 hours a day.We should all be prepared to go back to the Dark Age and should stop selling dreams to the people.People have lost interest in who is going to head the next govt that is expected to conduct the next CA elections(my impression was that CA election is once-in-a lifetime exercise).If people are helpless, who is the saviour of this country? All the best and regds, Mohan Lohani From: Upendra Gautam To: Madan Regmi ; Madan Dahal ; Mohan Lohani ; Dhrubahari Adhikari ; Kedar Mathema ; Bhishnu Nepal ; Prakash Lohani ; Hiranya Shrestha ; Surendra KC ; Keshab Paudel ; RP Acharya ; Surya Upadhyay ; Pushpa Pradhan Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 12:35 PM Subject: Nepal pm on Hindustani auto Nepal PM calls for Indian investments in auto, hydropower sectors Priyanka Pani Recently in Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai wants Indian investors to build and operate more hydropower and automobile sector projects in Nepal. “We have enough water to generate 85,000 mega watts (MW) of power that will be sufficient for domestic consumption. That apart, we can also look at selling the excess to several Indian states,” the Nepalese Prime Minister said while addressing a press delegation from Mumbai last week. The development of the hydropower sector in Nepal could earn revenues for the country, thus boosting the overall GDP growth rate of the country, which has been hovering at a mere 3 per cent since the last four decades. “We want to take this figure to a double-digit number in the next three years,” he said, adding that the Government is proactive in attracting Foreign Direct Investment to achieve high economic growth. Power shortage Development of hydropower can overcome the current power shortage in the country, speed up tourism and agriculture development, and enhance production capability of the country through rapid industrialisation, Bhattarai said. At present, the country faces a load shedding of 7-10 hours a day, thus impacting various other industrial and commercial activities. The country has already got investments from Indian power and infrastructure major GMR to build a 900-MW project at Upper Karnali. Besides, the Government is considering a project in Western Seti, which is being developed by another Indian firm Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam. It has already signed power purchase agreements with both these companies. However, the project has been facing several hindrances and protests from the locals and the licence expired recently. The Government has, however, allowed GMR to increase the authorised capital in its hydro power projects in Nepal to Rs 190 crore while also extending its survey licence by six months. The Government also extended the survey licence of the 600-MW Upper Marsyangdi Power Projects which expired in November 2011. A meeting of the high-level Investment Board chaired by the Prime Minister took decisions to renew the licences. Bhattarai also welcomed investments in the auto sector. The Government said that it will look into providing tax concessions so that Indian auto firms can set up manufacturing units. “There is a large cigarette factory which is defunct and can be utilised as an auto manufacturing factory,” he added.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Re: Investment board and Nepal's water resources

December 19, 2012 Radhesh Pant CEO Investment Board Radhesh jee Delighted to learn about your commitment to take necessary steps to secure Nepal's interest. However, the very approval IB has granted to "fix" capacity @ 900 MW ROR is detrimental to Nepal. Full potential of the site is 4,180 MW, storage. It should implemented as a multipurpose project. Pls spare sometime to study articles/paper on the subject. You may be playing into Indian lobby that is trying to ensure that Nepal does not use Karnali water for consumptive use in dry season - best way to secure food security in Nepal. I just hope that you don't do anything that will make you repent in future Regards Ratna Sansar Shrestha Sent from my iPhone On Dec 19, 2012, at 11:06, Radhesh Pant wrote: Dear Ratna Sasar jee: As per my discussion with you and Dipakji earlier, Investment Board will take necessary steps to secure Nepal's interest. This will primarily be achieved through a thorough negotiations on the PDA. The decisions that has been made are just routine and administrative. Pls. be rest assured. Best regards, Radhesh

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Investment board and Nepal's water resources

To: Radhesh Pant CEO Investment Board Cc: 'Dipak Gyawali'; Lok B Rawat; 'Amar Narayan Mali'; 'Arun Chandra Gajurel'; 'Bharat Prasain'; 'Chakrapani Sharma'; 'Juddha Gurung'; 'Lok Bahadur Raut'; 'Shriman Gautam'; 'Tara Kumari Gharti' Subject: Investment board and Nepal's water resources Radhesh jee We are saddened to read/watch news in today’s media about the captioned. I have learned with heavy heart that you are taking the very path we had requested you not to take when we (DipakG and I) came to meet you at your office some time back. This route will lead you only to failure, nothing more. We had hoped that you would learn from the history of previous incarnation of West Seti project. Investment Board, under your leadership, is definitely on the wrong tangent. Specifically you have put your stamp of approval to resource colonization in the case of upper Karnali project. Looks like you didn’t peruse numerous articles/papers written on the subject. You could have learnt quite a lot by simply visiting my website. For example if you follow the link below you can learn a lot about it. Do feel free to ask me if you need any clarification. With best regards, Sincerely, Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA Senior Water Resource Analyst

Friday, December 14, 2012

"The cost of energy" for Bhutan

"It’s that time of the year again when power generation dips to the lowest but demand peaks with thousands of heaters on. Which means its time to complain of the energy bills, which is much higher than the summer bills when energy consumption is way lower. But this winter it is not only households that are concerned of energy bills and working out ways to control consumption, even the government is doing the math and holding discussions. For several years now, domestic demand has been higher than our overall winter generation which drops to less than 300 MW because there is less water flowing in the snow fed rivers. A significant increase in generation is not expected until 2017 when the Punatshangchu project is commissioned. Most of the domestic consumption today is by industries in the southern belt. Domestic users or household consumption is less than 20 percent of the total demand. In recent years consumption has increased because of the rural electrification project and several hydropower projects that are under construction round the clock. The country’s biggest cement plant in Dungsam, which is on the verge of commissioning, would alone require about 26 MW at any point of time. This winter total import is expected to go up to 54 MW. In the past Bhutan never paid for electricity it imported in winter from India since it cancelled out with what was exported in summer but this time the modalities appear to have changed. Some energy officials say for the first time domestic energy demand is far outstripping generation converting Bhutan to a net electricity importer in winter. The complications arise because Bhutan has to import at a much higher rate from India while it exports to India in summer at a much lower rate. The other option is bartering with a neighbouring Indian state the same quantity of energy during the lean and peak season. But this too is complicated because of the Unscheduled Interchange Mechanism. Under this mechanism if the importer consumes more or less than the agreed amount, the importer is penalized based on the frequency of extra or less energy consumed. The penalties are extremely high and energy authorities say its only possible to project consumption. This mechanism has become the watchword for interstate electricity trade in India. Some experts say the mechanism is merely a penal and disciplinary tool to deter deviating from schedule but others say pricing by grid frequency keeps supply equal to demand and cancels out fluctuations. If imports are going to entail higher costs who is going to pay for it? Will industries have to close for a few days every now and then or will it be passed on to the domestic consumer? While a deal is being worked out the best that can be done is to switch off when not in use." Courtsey: kuenselonline

जलश्रोतको औपनिबेसिक दोहन

    प्रकृतिले प्रदान गरेको श्रोतसाधनको दोहनबाट प्रत्येक देश समृद्ध÷सम्पन्न बन्दछ । पहिले “हरियो वन, नेपालको धन” भनिन्थ्यो, तर वन–जंगलको अत्यधिक दोहन भएर पनि समृद्धि÷सम्पन्नता आएन । त्यस्तै जलश्रोतमा धनी देशका एक चौथाई जनसंख्याकोमा धारा भएपनि पानी आउंदैन भने बांकी घरहरुमा धाराको अभावमा स्वच्छ पानी उपयोग गर्नु बिलासिता भएकोेछ । यसले गर्दा झाडापखाला देखि टाइफाइड सम्मका रोगहरु लाग्नाले जनशक्तीको उत्पादकत्व घटेकोछ । पिउन र सरसफाईको लागि स्वच्छ पानीे मात्र उपलब्ध भए वार्षिक दशौं अर्ब रुपैया औषधोपचार खर्च बच्नेथियो ।

मध्ययुगिन दोहन पद्धति
    अर्को मुलुकको विकासको लागि आफ्नो मुलुकको प्राकृतिक श्रोतको उत्खनन्÷दोहन गर्नुलाई औपनिवेसिक दोहन भनिन्छ । भारत लगायतका उपनिबेसहरु स्वतंत्र नहुन्जेल यस्तो मध्ययुगिन पद्धतिमा दोहन हुन्थ्यो र उपनिबेसहरुको अर्थतन्त्र समृद्ध÷सम्पन्न भएको उदाहरण छैन । प्राकृतिक श्रोत आफ्नै देशको हितमा उपयोग गर्ने मुलुकहरु भने समृद्ध÷सम्पन्न छन् ।
    १९२० मा महाकाली नदीमा शारदा बाँध निर्माण गरेर नेपालको जलश्रोतको औपनिबेसिक दोहन प्रारम्भ गरिएकोमा १९५० पछि कोशी तथा गण्डक सन्धीहरु अन्तर्गत बाँधहरु निर्मित भएर औपनिवेसिक दोहनले निरन्तरता पायो । यी आयोजनाको उद्देश्य बाढी नियन्त्रण, सिंचाई तथा बिद्युत उत्पादन हो । तर बाढी नियन्त्रण तथा सिंचाईबाट नेपाल लाभान्वित हुन्न (नभएकोमा आश्चर्यचकित हुन आवश्यक पनि छैन) किनभने यी भारतमा बाढी नियन्त्रण तथा सिंचाइको लागि निर्माण भएकोहो । तर डुबान र बिस्थापनको समस्या नेपालले भोगेर बाढी नियन्त्रण तथा सिंचाइको लाभ भारतको पोल्टामा पार्नु जलश्रोतको औपनिबेसिक दोहन उत्कृष्ट नमूना हो । नेपालमा बिनास गरेर भारतलाई लाभ ।
    महाकाली सन्धी अन्तर्गत पंचेश्वर आयोजनामा पनि औपनिबेसिक दोहनको प्रयास हुैदंछ । आयोजनाको जलाशयको लागि आवश्यक जमिन मध्ये ४५ प्रतिशत नेपालमा डुबाएर त्यसैको अनुपातमा स्थानिय बासिन्दा बिस्थापित हुन्छन् तर सिंचाईबाट भारत अत्यधिक लाभान्वित हुन्छ (नेपालमा ९३ हजार हेक्टरमा सिंचाई हुन्छ तर भारतमा १६ लाख हेक्टरमा) भने बाढी नियन्त्रणबाट पूर्णतः भारत लाभान्वित हुन्छ ।

जलबिद्युतको औपनिबेसिक दोहन
    नेपालमा हजारौं मेगावाट बिजुली उत्पादन गर्न सकिन्छ, तर नेपालीहरु दशकौं देखि लोडसेडिंगको मारमा छन भने आधा जनसंख्याको बिजुलीमा पहुंच छैन । बिजुलीको अभावमा औद्योगिकरण नभएकोले बरोजगार युवायुवति बाध्यताबस् बिदेश पलायन हुन्छन, आर्थिक मात्र होइन, यौन शोषणमा पनि पर्छन र अझ मानव बेचबिखनको शिकार सम्म हुन्छन् । तर बिजुली भारत निकासी गर्ने गरेर अरुण तेश्रो, माथिल्लो कर्णाली, लिखु, आदि जलबिद्युत आयोजनाहरुको लाईसेन्सहरु दिइन्छ । नेपालमा औद्योगिकरण तथा रोजगारी श्रृजना गर्न बिजुलीको व्यवस्था गरिन्न । औपनिबेसिक दोहनको यो अर्को रुप हो ।

भारतीय दृष्टिकोणबाट यस्तो दोहन
भारतमा बिनास (डुबानमा तथा बिस्थापन) गरेर भएपनि भारतमै विकास (बाढी नियन्त्रण तथा सिंचाई) गर्नु स्वाभाविक हो । तर नेपालमा बिनास गरेर निर्मित बाँधबाट भारतमा विकास गर्नु भारतीय हिसाबले प्राकृतिक श्रोतको दोहनको उत्कृष्ट पद्धति हो । दुष्प्रभाव (बिनास) जत्ति नेपालमा अनि लाभ (विकास) जत्ति भारतमा । यो पद्धतिलाई किन औपनिवेसिक दोहन भनिन्छ भन्ने आफै स्पष्ट हुन्छ ।
    बेलायत जस्ता साम्राज्यबादी मुलुकहरुले भारत लगायतका उपनिवेशमा यहि पद्धतिमा प्राकृतिक श्रोतको दोहन गरेर आफू समृद्धिशाली बने भने यो पद्धतिसमेतको बिरोधमा क्रान्तीको लहर चलेकोले, दृष्टान्ततः कहिल्यै घाम नअस्ताउने भनिएको साम्राज्यबादी शक्ती संयुक्त अधिराज्यका केहि टापुमा खुम्चिएकोछ । अहिले छिमेकी मुलुकहरुप्रति भारतको यहि रवैया छ । भारत संरक्षित राज्य भुटानको परराष्ट्र तथा प्रतिरक्षा मामिला आफ्नो मातहतमा भएकैले भुटानको प्राकृतिक श्रोतको औपनिवेसिक दोहन हुनुमा कुनै आश्चर्य छैन । तर सार्वभौम मुलुक नेपालको प्राकृतिक श्रोतको औपनिवेसिक दोहन हुनु दुखःद हो ।

औपनिबेसिक बौद्धिकता
    भारतले नेपाललाई कहिल्यै पनि उपनिवेश त के संरक्षित राज्य सम्म पनि भन्ने आंट गरेको छैन । तर १९५० को सन्धी अन्तर्गत विशेष सम्बन्धको जामा पहि¥याएर नेपालको प्राकृतिक श्रोतमा हालिमुहालि गर्ने अभिलाषा तथा आंकाक्षा राखेकैछ । नेपालको जलश्रोतमा भारतको असीमित पहुंचको प्रत्याभूतिको शर्तमा १९९० को जनआन्दोलनलाई मत्थर पार्न सहयोग गर्न खोजेकोमा तत्कालिन राजाले बरु आप्mनै जनतालाई सार्वभौम बनाएर भारतीय महत्वाकांक्षामा तुषारापात गरे ।
बरु जनआन्दोलनबाट स्थापित कृष्णप्रसाद भट्टराईको अन्तरिम सरकारले भारतीय नाकाबन्दी खुलाउने क्रममा नेपालको नदी नालालाई दिल्लीमा “साझा” घोषणा गर्नपुगे । तर आम निर्वाचनमा प्रधानमन्त्री भट्टराई पराजित भएकोले त्यसलाइर्, शौभाग्यबस्, औपचारिकता दिने काम हुनसकेन । त्यस्तै २००९ मे महिनामा प्रधानमन्त्री पदबाट राजिनामा गर्ने अवस्था आउंदा प्रचण्डलाई नेपालको जलश्रोतमाथि भारतको पनि हक लाग्ने अवधारणा मानेको भए राजिनामा गर्न नपर्ने स्थिति बनाउने आश्वासन दिइएको थियो । तर प्रचण्डले राजिनामा गरेर जलश्रोतको औपनिवेसिक दोहनको बिपक्षमा आफूलाई खडा गरे ।
    तर कतिपय बुद्धिजीवि, राजनीतिकर्मी, कर्मचारीतन्त्र, व्यापारी, बैंक तथा वित्तिय संस्थाका संचालकहरुलाई प्राकृतिक श्रोतको औपनिवेशिक दोहन स्वीकार्य देखिन्छ र यसको बिपक्षमा उभिनेलाई विकास बिरोधीको बिल्ला भिराएर नवसाम्राज्यबादको तावेदारी गर्ने गरेको देखिन्छ । यो तप्काले घरमा बत्ति बाल्दा सडक उज्यालो हुनेसंग जलाशययुक्त आयोजनाको तल्लो तटीय लाभलाई तुलना गरेर बौद्धिक दरिद्रता प्रदर्शन गर्छन, नेपालमा बिनास गरेर भारतलाई लाभान्वित गर्ने प्रपञ्च रच्छन् ।
विश्व बैंक, एशियाली बिकास बैंक तथा कतिपय बैदेशिक तथा स्वदेशी गैर सरकारी संस्था पनि बिनास जति नेपालमा र छिमेकि मुलुकको बिकास हुनेगरेर प्राकृतिक श्रोतको दोहनको पैरबी गरेर प्राकृतिक श्रोतको औपनिबेसिक दोहनमा सघाउंछन् ।
    आयोजना विशेष कार्यान्वयन हुने कुरा संचार माध्यममा संप्रेषण भएपछि त्यसबाट नेपालको स्वार्थ सम्बद्र्धन हुन्छ कि हुन्न भनेर विश्लेष्ण गर्दा यो तप्काले चित्त दुखाउंछ, आयोजना बन्नै लाग्दा राष्ट्रघातको कुरा उठायो भनेर । अमूर्त तथा भावनात्मक राष्ट्रियताको कुरा मात्र नभएर राष्ट्रलाई आर्थिक÷वित्तिय घाटा पर्ने नैं भएर राष्ट्रघातको चर्चा गर्दा असहिष्णु प्रतिकृया जनाउनु औपनिवेसिक बौद्धिकता हो । यिनले भारतीयले लगानि गरेको आयोजनाको बिजुली भारत निकासी निर्विकल्प मान्छन् । तर चीनले लगानि गर्ने पश्चिम सेती आयोजनाको बिजुली चीन नलग्ने हुनाले यिनको निर्विकल्पता स्खलित भएकोछ ।
कोहि बुद्धिजीवि “भारतले आफ्नो लगानि सुरक्षित गर्न आवश्यक सुरक्षा आफैले गर्नुपर्ने पस्ताव पेश गर्नसक्छ । शक्ति राष्ट्रहरुद्वारा यस्ता प्रस्ताव राख्नुलाई अस्वाभाविक भन्ने गरिंदैन” भनेर सार्वभौम नेपालको भूभागमा भारतीय सुरक्षाकर्मीको उपस्थिति स्वीकार्य ठान्छन् भने कोहि नेपालमा भुटान मोडेलमा जलबिद्युत विकास गर्ने पैरबी गर्छन, भुटानले जस्तै परराष्ट्र तथा प्रतिरक्षा मामिला भारतलाई बुझाएर भएपनि । अर्काथरी त नेपाली सेनाको भरण पोषणको जिम्मा भारतलाई दिएर भएपनि जलबिद्युत विकास गर्नुपर्ने मान्यता राख्छन् । अझ अर्को तप्का जलबिद्युत विकासमा सार्वभौमसत्ता बाधक हुनुहुन्न भन्छन्, अर्थात सार्वभौमसत्ता गुमाएर भएपनि जलबिद्युत विकास गर्नुपर्ने ! यस्तोमा भारतले नेपालको प्राकृतिक श्रोतको औपनिवेसिक दोहनको आकांक्षा, अभिलाषा, अपेक्षा राख्नु आश्चर्यजनक होइन ।

उपयुक्त दोहन पद्धति
    जसरी कुखुराको फुलको परिकार खान फुटाउनै पर्छ, त्यस्तै जलश्रोतबाट लाभान्वित हुन डुबान तथा बिस्थापन जस्ता दुष्प्रभावलाई आत्मसात गर्नैपर्छ । तर दुष्प्रभाव सबै नेपालमा र लाभ अन्यत्र हुने औपनिबेसिक दोहन पद्धति उपयुक्त हुन्न । नेपालमा थोरै दुष्प्रभाव पारेर धेरै नेपालीले र नेपालको अर्थतन्त्रले लाभ लिने गरेर नेपालको जलश्रोतको दोहन गरिनुपर्छ । नेपालको जलश्रोत दोहन गरेर उत्पादित बिजुली नेपालको औद्योगिकरणमा उपयोग गरिनुपर्छ र पेट्रोलियम पदार्थ बिस्थापन तथा उर्जा सुरक्षाको लागि समेत उच्च स्तरमा बिद्युतिकरण गर्नुपर्छ ।
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
मिलाप मासिकको वर्ष ३ अंक ४ मा प्रकाशित

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Load Shedding Mitigation Measures Lacks Efficacy

Nepal Electricity Authority has projected 18 hours of load shedding in coming dry season while the care taker PM Bhattarai, looking after the portfolio of Energy Ministry, has committed to limit it to 10 hours and announced certain mitigation measures.

One of them is curbing leakages. The deficit this dry season will be in the range of 900 MW (installed capacity generating around 250 MW whereas projected peak demand is 1163 MW) while system loss that theoretically could be reduced is less than 40 MW (about 15% of generation) reducing load shedding by a small fraction. However, it will require huge investment in system up-gradation and strengthening of transmission and distribution network which is not something that could be accomplished for coming dry season; not even next dry season. Reduction of nontechnical loss will not make more electricity available as those “stealing” electricity will start to pay once they are “caught”; not stop using electricity.

GoN also plans to set up 80 MW diesel plant for projected deficit of 900 MW; like a drop in the ocean. Rough calculation indicates that it will cost about Rs 20 billion/year in diesel for operation around the year (without accounting for depreciation, interest, lubricants, repairs and maintenance, etc.). This amount is sufficient to build hydropower plants of over 130 MW (assuming initial investment of Rs 150 million/MW). Meaning, just one year’s fuel cost of 80 MW will “buy” 130 MW hydropower plant with the potential economic life of 25 years. If the life of diesel plant is ten years, then 80 MW diesel plant will burn up diesel worth Rs 200 billion (at current price of diesel) which is sufficient to buy hydropower project with 1,300 MW installed capacity.

Further, as diesel costs Rs. 97/liter which can produce 3.5 units, electricity will cost about Rs 35/unit. Since consumers will not be able to afford it, NEA, already projected to incur a net loss of Rs 10 billion this year, will suffer additional loss of over Rs 15 billion; Rs 25 billion in one year. If such loss is defrayed by government grant, it would force reduction in the budget under other heads. For instance, operating the plant for one year will cost 2,000 km in terms of new road to a nation lacking in infrastructure adversely impacting rural people majority of who are below poverty line. Furthermore, as only one fourth of the population has access to electricity, it will amount to subsidizing the people with access to electricity (urban rich) at the cost of the people without access to the electricity (rural poor).

The idea of diesel plant comes from the people who believe that “costly power is better than no power,” attributing high cost to “un-served energy.” Indian government too allowed Enron to build powerplant in Dhabol, Maharashtra subscribing to that concept only to realize afterwards that “no power is better than costly power” when it was already late. The rest is history.

The government seems to think that diesel plant will start generating electricity as soon as decision is made. As diesel plants entail adverse environmental impacts like noise pollution, GHG emission, excessive vibration, etc. EIA is mandatory, requiring about 6 months (no one in right mind would allow a diesel plant to be located in her/his neighborhood). And placing order, getting shipped, erection at site, connecting to grid, etc. will take about 18 to 24 months. We will be lucky if diesel plants will start generating electricity for dry season of 2014 AD. In view of all of the above, setting up diesel plant manifests the height of foolishness.

There is also plan to import 200 MW electricity from India forgetting that UP and Bihar are suffering energy crisis (people in certain areas of UP get electricity every 20-day for a few hours!) and depending on India is like a poor begging from a pauper.

Historically too India has proved to be unreliable source. After PTC India, Bihar State Electricity Board, etc. had executed documentation to export 30 MW during the tenure of 'Prachanda' as PM, the process was aborted as External Affairs Ministry of India objected to it in May 2009, culminating in PM Prachanda’s resignation (people, unaware of the fact, ascribe the resignation to the then CoAS, Katwal). Now, without any formal agreement in place, only verbal commitment was, reportedly, made by Indian PM during NAM summit in Tehran, there is no guarantee.

The government is also planning to reduce the working days to five days. PM Krishna Prasad Bhattarai had also declared five days week to reduce expenditure on utilities, petroleum product, etc. But the expenditures didn’t decline, including on electricity, while citizenry suffered and both productivity and production of the manpower diminished. Therefore, by adding a day to the weekend, load shedding hours will not decline. Conversely, if 7-day weekend is declared (shut down all industries, educational institutions, government and nongovernment offices for the whole week) the load shedding can easily be reduced to zero. But this will take Nepal back to medieval ages which no one in right mind would choose.

There is no magical solution for the dry season of 2013 except belt tightening. However, cost effective way forward lies in water resources (where Nepal enjoys competitive and comparative advantage). There are a number of hydropower projects in the pipeline which can be completed within 18 to 24 months, if the construction is to be mechanized at the higher plane (construction of Khudi project took only 18 months). Therefore, it will be substantially cheaper if hydropower projects are offered Rs 10/unit on the condition that electricity is generated within 2 years.

It is very disheartening to see PM Bhattarai, who talks a lot about mitigating load shedding problem in Nepal, determined to export power from Upper Karnali (900 MW), Arun III (900 MW), Tamakoshi III (650 MW) and Upper Marsyangdi (600 MW), notwithstanding the public opposition (writ petitions are pending in the Supreme Court about the first 2). It is sheer foolishness for a country starved for power, dreaming of exporting power.

Nepal is facing energy crisis even under suppressed economic growth scenario (no power for industrialization, impelling youth to migrate for employment). Nepal will need 5,000 MW in 5 years to attain normal economic growth (NEA’s load forecast is based on suppressed growth) and higher quantum to attain accelerated economic growth; common dream of PM Bhattarai and this scribe.

Two things should be remembered. This is no negation of foreign direct investment. As long as electricity is used for the benefit of Nepal who invests is irrelevant. Secondly, electricity is unique because it cannot be stored; must be consumed simultaneously with its generation in real time. Therefore, electricity generated, if not consumed domestically has to be exported immediately; otherwise it will be spilled. Besides, so far only a few plants have been built with domestic funding but electricity has not been exported to Norway from Khimti, nor to Japan from Kulekhani. Neither are there plans to export power from Chameliya to Korea or to China from West Seti. Meaning, it is foolhardy to say that the electricity has to be exported to the country to which the investor belongs.

Nepal government should adopt a policy to implement as many hydropower projects as possible with domestic investment so that benefit from investment linkage will accrue to Nepal’s economy; but shouldn’t preclude foreign investment as long as electricity generated is availed to Nepal. Secondly, Nepal should allow projects to be implemented by the investor/s (domestic or foreign) that will generate the electricity at the lowest cost, expeditiously. Nepal should purchase all such power (at lowest possible price) and electrify the nation massively (not only for lighting, but to industrialize, electrify transportation, energize agriculture sector which will help us attain food, water and energy security) and export the remaining at tariff comparable to what Nepal is importing at; as PTC India does; not allow a developer/investor to export directly at rock bottom tariff. West Seti project is excellent example. Originally envisaged as an export oriented project, the license was cancelled subsequent to immense and unrelenting public pressure; I was one of the few in the forefront. Now Chinese is building for Nepal’s need and the fact that it will be implemented as a multipurpose project is the icing on the cake.

Private investors have discovered that investment in electricity generation is lucrative. However, they are constrained by lack of infrastructure (transmission network and access road) in which it is not feasible for them to invest. Private sector indeed does have comparative advantage in building power plants from the perspective of time and cost (all projects built by NEA, including Chilime, have incurred time and cost overrun). Therefore, NEA should focus on transmission network and if constrained by financial considerations, it should, to use an old euphemism, “beg, borrow or steal”.
 Ratna Sansar Shrestha. fca
Published in Spotlight Newsmagazine: Vol 6 No 11 of November 30, 2012