Saturday, June 7, 2014

No Sense in Building Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar Transmission Line

Kanak Mani Dixit
Himal weekly

Kanak jee

you have written article in TKP of a few days back on "construction of Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar transmission line must not be obstructed." My perspective is very different from his.

This transmission line will have a capacity for 1,000 MW, but to build it to import 150 MW is sheer misuse of Nepal’s scarce resource for a resource constrained country; it doesn’t ensure optimum use of resources. Underutilization of capacity costs highly to the economy.

Further, 150 MW will be like a drop in the ocean as Nepal’s deficit is already more than 500 MW. Moreover, if Nepal is to attain normal economic growth (current scenario obtaining is suppressed economic growth), demand for electricity will surpass 5,000 MW in 5 years time (by when one can expect the lines will be ready) and the “drop”, in that scenario, will become infinitesimal.

Moreover, India, especially north India is suffering from power deficit and she is not in a position to provide power in quantities that Nepal need. It will amount to अाफै त महादेव कसले िदने बर ?

Furthermore, India has been using power export to Nepal as a "Damocles’ sword" exemplified by refusal by Ministry of External Affairs to sanction export of 30 MW to Nepal in 2009 May, impelling Prachanda to resign (after Bihar Electricity Board, PTC, and other ministries had already concurred with the proposal); the incident related to Katuwal is mere eyewash. Even afterwards that Nitish Kumar also disconnected power to Nepal several times.

Therefore, it will be basically used for export of power to India. Which doesn’t make sense as it is for the importer or project developer that should be investing for evacuation of power – not Nepal government.

In this backdrop it also shouldn’t be forgotten that hydrocrats in both Nepal and India are working to build a string of projects for export like Arun III, Tamakoshi III, Upper Marshyangdi and Upper Karnali; this defies logic. Nepal readies to export at the same time it is also planning to import.

Then the tragicomic situation will be: Nepal exporting in the range of tariff of Rs 2-3/kWh and importing at more than Rs 10/kWh. It will just like what Indians are going about saying: नेपाली लाेग अच्छे, हैं मगर बेबकुफ हैं ।

Therefore, transmission lines should be built for hydropower projects in the pipeline to ensure use of electricity generated as such to meet Nepal’s not only existing and projected demand but also latent demand like providing access of electricity from NEA to close to 100% of the population (currently only 40% of the population is connected to NEA system), providing electricity for industrialization such that employment is generated in adequate quantum to enable those who have migrated overseas for employment are able to return home, electrification of transportation, displacement of LPG from kitchens, etc.; if possible even to displace firewood from rural kitchens which is resulting in loss of 430 million working days that is spent in collection of firewood.

It, however, doesn’t mean that Nepal shouldn’t export even a kilowatt-hour of electricity because electricity, under normal circumstance cannot be stored; any all excess electricity should/could be exported.

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