As a banker you should know that Nepal isn't fully dependent on foreign financing. One significant example is IFC's plan to float bond in Nepal for Rs 50 billion. Huge potential for raising fund exists in remittances too, which has hardly been tapped. It is not to preclude FDI, though.
Secondly you have jumped to the conclusion that we need to “sell”, implying export, electricity. You should have first consulted those who know how much power Nepal needs. My calculation shows that Nepal needs 5,200 MW right now to meet latent demands in various sectors. 60% people don't have access to power from grid and then there is challenge to reduce load shedding suffered by 40% who have access to grid - additional 1,500 MW is required for this purpose. A number of industrial corridors in Nepal require another 1,000 MW (to increase capacity usage from below 50% to a decent level and to allow new industries to be established), which is the reason behind failure of banks to use excess liquidity. Just to displace LPG from urban, suburban and peri-urban areas we need another 1,000 MW. If we start electrification of transportation, we will need another 500 MW. Where is the "power" to export? I am not against export of power per se, especially since it is not possible to store or is prohibitively costly to do so. Only after Nepal using power in this quantum she can rise above suppressed economic growth scenario obtaining now to normal economic growth scenario. My projection shows that in 5 years’ time Nepal will need about 10,000 MW to maintain normal economic growth rate. I don’t want to waste my time talking of power need for accelerated economic growth.
You are absolutely wrong that we suffer frm inferiority complex – I cannot speak about you in this context, though. Those of us who are holding a discourse on the subject aren’t doing so because we suffer from inferiority complex; rather we wish to ensure that we don’t get cheated once more like in Koshi, Gandak, Tanakpur, Mahakali, et al treaties. If people contemplate a little in-depth it is Nepal’s fault that Nepal got cheated – Indian patriots did what a patriotic Indian would do in the best interest of India. Similarly, Narendra “Bhai” Modi is also going to do the same. On the contrary in Nepal we have many people who proclaim their patriotism from the rooftops, go about waving flag at a drop of hat but are ready to sign on dotted lines even without understanding manifestations and ramifications of the document that is being put forward for signature. The current draft is one which if signed will cause a number of our future generations to curse us – this generation – for failing to do necessary “due diligence” (to borrow a banking term). Of course, this wouldn’t apply to those whose children have already abandoned Nepal.
Water and petroleum cannot be compared till we are able to sell water as Sheikhs sell petroleum. And that is the crux of the issue. If the current draft is signed India will get valuable lean season augmented flow of water free of cost while Nepal will suffer from negative externalities like in Koshi and Gandak projects. This is not an opportunity at all, but a trap under which Nepal would lose internationally recognized “absolute territorial sovereignty” (also know as Harmon doctrine) over her famed 6,000 rivers.
There is an inherent contradiction in your statement about “unprecedented gegawatts of electricity lighting up the future of our nation”. How can such electricity light up future of our nation when the electricity will be exported? This is a clear disconnect. If you mean lighting up India then I would have to, grudgingly, agree with you. The main problem Nepal is facing is that Nepali citizens feel more patriotic towards India and I would like to trust that you aren’t one of them.
Finally you must have learnt that 3 parties have decided against signing current draft, although you wanted Nepal to sign it right away without much discussion.
Wish you a successful foreign trip.
With best regards,
Ratna Sansar Shrestha, fca
Senior Water Resource Analyst