Thursday, December 10, 2015

Discrimination against Madhesi in New Constitution?

India has blockaded Nepal for last two months on the pretext of agitation (which was more of terrorist activity) by a few much splintered Madhesi parties (out of 112 MPs elected from amongst Madhesi people only 11, representing over 6 parties, are opposed to new constitution!). The agitation is purportedly against discrimination of Madhesi people and they aren’t willing to their agitation end till discrimination is ended. Of several demands, they claim demarcation of provinces is their main demand, under which they are insisting on inclusion of 3 districts in east Tarai (Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa) in province number 2. If their wish is to be fulfilled, the merger will have to be done forcefully, violating the wishes of these 3 districts–almost like committing rape, as the people of these districts are against a merger with province number 2 at any cost. These parties have also failed to explain how discrimination, if any, will end by such a merger. Whatever these parties are saying openly, the covert reason seems to be to assist India in her vested in Nepal’s water resources by expanding province number 2 to encompass Koshi River (Sunsari is part of floodplain of Koshi).

Discrimination against Madhesi
These parties are repeating ad nauseam that Madhesi faced discrimination in the past, which will be continued under new constitution too. However, there was no provision for such discrimination under any law, Constitution, Act, Rule, etc. in the past, nor in the new constitution. Matter of fact is Madhesi feudal landlords have been exploiting some Madhesi people.

Before examining whether new constitution is discriminatory, there is need to establish who is a Madhesi. Current Indian home minister has been quoted as saying that 50% of Nepal’s population is of Indian origin and are called Madhesi, who live in Tarai. However, all people living in Tarai aren’t Madhesi and all Madhesi people don’t live in Tarai. For example one of the agitating parties is headed by Sharad Singh Bhandari, but he isn’t a Madhesi. He is deemed to be a Hill people. Similarly, Nepal have had 4 Koirala prime ministers and all of them hail from Tarai, but aren’t Madhesi. On the other hand many Madhesi people don’t live in Tarai and some even have spouses from amongst hill people.

In the same vein, Tharu, Muslim, Rabansi, etc., although hailing from Tarai, aren’t deemed to be Madhesi. Only Madhesi Brahmin, Rajput, Kayastha, Yadav, Teli, Kushwah, Kurmi, Kewat, Kalawar, etc. are deemed to be Madhesi and their mother tongues are Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, etc. Although 51% of Nepal’s population reside in Tarai, only 22% are deemed to be Madhesi. Besides, as most of these parties were routed in the election from their constituencies in Tarai, it is obvious that most of Madhesi people don’t agree with them. Therefore, their parroting about discrimination is neither supported by statistics nor by reality.

Constitutional Provision
Closer look at new constitution promulgated in September 2015 doesn’t reveal any provision that discriminate against Madhesi. Rather there are provisions that invest Madhesi with more rights for example in preamble, fundamental rights, employment in Nepal army, federal and provincial governments, etc.
It should be clear to people that everything on earth cannot be included in constitution in detail. Constitution is fundamental law of the country and all laws will be based on the constitution. Any law, which is repugnant to the constitution, is void ab inito. If any existing law contradicts provision of constitution re right of Madhesi people, such law is unconstitutional and not enforceable.

Proportional representation and inclusiveness
Main complaint of such parties is that this constitution, written and promulgated by constituent assembly, which was elected by the people (all previous constitutions, which were drafted by committees/commission appointed by kings, were promulgated by kings, using sovereign/executive right “invested” in them), is that it neither is inclusive nor guarantees proportional representation. However, it has been expressly stipulated in the preamble that a society that is inclusive on proportional representation basis shall be built. Therefore, their complaint is baseless. Actually, these words found place in constitution as a result of people’s movement that demanded proportional representation and inclusiveness. No previous constitution of Nepal provided for proportional representation and inclusiveness.

Right to equality
Article 18 (1) stipulates that “all citizens shall be equal before law” and adds in Sub article (2) that “there shall be no discrimination in the application of general laws on the grounds of origin, religion, race, caste, tribe, sex, physical condition, disability, health condition, matrimonial status, pregnancy, economic condition, language or geographical region, or ideology etc.” Hence, it will be unconstitutional to discriminate against anyone. So, it is not true that the constitution discriminates against Madhesi people and the statement itself is unconstitutional.

Moreover, proviso clause of Sub article (3) stipulates that special provisions can be made in “law for the protection, empowerment or advancement” of Madhesi. Under this provision Madhesi people are entitled to special protection, empowerment or advancement. While other people, although residing in Tarai, aren’t entitled to special protection, empowerment or advancement. Further, Madhesi people living outside Tarai too are entitled to special protection, empowerment or advancement. Financially deprived citizens too entitled to special protection, empowerment or advancement while Madhesi people are entitled to this special facility irrespective of whether they are financially deprived or not.

To recapitulate, Madhesi people aren’t discriminated against by the constitution and, on the contrary they are entitled to special protection, empowerment or advancement under this constitution. In this backdrop it is uncalled for to confuse and confound Madhesi people and hold nation to ransom by helping India to impose blockade.

Right to social justice
Article 42 has made provision for right to social justice to Madhesi people in the matter related to employment in state agencies on the basis of principle of inclusion. In other words, for example, Khas Arya people can be employed in state agencies under free competition only, but Madhesi people will enjoy certain reservation as a positive discrimination measure besides being able to participate in free competition. Specific law will fix the proportion of reservation for Madhesi people.

Nepal Army
Although there are quite a few Madhesi people working in Nepal Army, Madhesi parties’ constant refrain has been that they are discriminated against in the matter of employment in Nepal Army. Therefore, new constitution has specifically stipulated in Article 267 that Madhesi people have right to be employed in Nepal Army based on the principle of inclusion over and above on the basis of free competition. For this purpose too specific law will fix proportion of reservation for Madhesi people.

Government service
Article 285 (2) too stipulates that positions of all federal governmental services shall be fulfilled through competitive examinations of the basis of principle of “proportion inclusion.”

Positive discrimination
In this manner, it is clear that Madhesi people aren’t discriminated against by any provision of the constitution. Nor have Madhesi parties been able to point out any provision that discriminates against them. Rather. There are several articles in the constitution that guarantees proportional representation and inclusiveness. Such provision is known as positive discrimination internationally.

Either these parties have failed to understand provisions of the constitution, or are pretending not to understand and have become instrumental in having India blockade Nepal. It is also failure of state mechanism or dereliction of duty on the part of politicos and bureaucrats manning government in as much as failure to explain these positive discriminations and also assure that the constitution isn’t discriminatory against Madhesi people.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha

Published in People's Review on December 10, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

७२ सालको संविधानमा मधेशीप्रति बिभेद !

बिगत २ महिना देखि भुरेटाकुरे मधेशी दलहरुको आन्दोलनको नाममा भएका आतंककारी गतिविधिको भर गरेर (यी दलहरुको काँधमा बन्दुक राखेर) भारतले नेपाललाई नाकाबन्दी गरिराखेकोछ । यी दलहरुको यस्तो कृयाकलापको उद्देश्य मधेशीहरुमाथि राज्यले गरेको बिभेदको अन्त्य भनिएकोछ । जनसंख्याको (भूगोललाई उपेक्षा गरेर) मात्र आधारमा निर्वाचन क्षेत्र हुनुपर्ने, निरपेक्षढंगबाट समानुपातिक प्रतिनिधित्व हुनुपर्ने, अंगिकृत नागरिकले उच्चपदासीन हुन पाउनुपर्ने, उनीहरुले चाहे जस्तो सीमांकन गरिनुपर्ने, निर्वाचन क्षेत्रको हरेक १० वर्षमा पुनःनिर्धारण हुनुपर्ने, इत्यादि यिनको प्रमुख मागहरु हुन । तर सीमांकनलाई प्रमुख माँग भन्दै पूर्वी तराईका सुन्सरी, मोरंग र झापा जिल्लाहरु २ नं प्रदेशमा गाभिनु पर्ने माँग छ । यिनले स्पष्ट पार्न नसकेका कुरा के छ भने बलात्कारको शैलीमा (किनभने यी जिल्लाका बासिन्दा कदापि २ नं प्रदेशमा गाभिन तयार छैनन्) यी ३ जिल्लाहरु २ नं प्रदेशमा गाभ्दैमा कसरी बिभेदको अन्त्य हुन्छ । तर अर्कोतिर यी ३ जिल्लाहरु २ नं प्रदेशमा गाभिनै पर्ने जिद्दीबाट यस्ता गतिविधिको अन्तर्य नेपालको जलश्रोतमाथि भारतको अभिष्टपूर्तिमा सहायक बनेको कुरा उदांगिएकोछ ।

नेपालको जलश्रोतमाथि भारतको कुदृष्टि रहेकोमा बिबाद नरहे पनि नेपालले धर्म निरपेक्षता अवलम्बन गर्न आँट गरेकोले आक्रोशित भएर यी दलहरुलाई उक्साएर नेपालमाथि नाकाबन्दीको दण्ड दिएको पनि आंकलन छ । सतहमा देखिएको यहि हो, तर पर्दा पछाडी के छ भन्ने लगायतका कुरा भविष्यको गर्र्भमैं छ ।

मधेशीमाथि बिभेद
अहिले यी दलहरुले अलापेका एउटै राग के हो भने राज्यले मधेशीमाथि बिगतमा बिभेद गरेको थियो र नयाँ संविधान जारी भएपछि पनि बिभेदले निरन्तरता पाउने भयो । नेपालको कुनै पनि नियम कानूनको कुनै पनि व्यवस्थाले कहिल्यै पनि मधेशी माथि बिभेद गरेकोछैन । तर शोषण भने मधेशी ठालू, जमिन्दारहरुले नैं गरेको छ, जुन कुराको बिबेचना यी पंक्तिमा गरिन्न ।

यस सन्दर्भमा मधेशी भनेको को हो भन्ने तर्फ दृष्टिगत गर्न वान्छनिय हुन्छ । हुन त भारतीय गृहमन्त्रीलाई उद्धृत गरेर नेपालको कूल जनसंख्याको ५० प्रतिशत भारतीय मूलका हुन र मधेशी कहलिएर तराइमा बसोबास गर्छन भनिन्छ, जुन यी दलहरु नकार्छन् । जेहोस्, तराइमा बस्ने सबै मधेशी होइनन् र मधेशी सबै तराइमा बस्दैनन् । जस्तै शरद सिं भण्डारी नेतृत्वको दल पनि मधेशी मोर्चामा समाबेश छ, तर भण्डारी आफै मधेशी होइनन्, पहाडीया कहलिन्छन् । त्यस्तै नेपाललाई ४ वटा प्रधानमन्त्री दिएको कोइराला परिवार पनि पुस्तौं देखि तराइमा बसोबास गर्छन, तर पनि पहाडीया मानिन्छन् । अर्कोतिर धेरै मधेशीहरु पहाडमा बस्छन् र आन्दोलन/आतंककारी गतिविधिमा संलग्न मोर्चाका धेरै जसो नेताले काठमाडौं उपत्यकामैं घरजम गरेकाछन् (कतिपयले पहाडीया छोरी चेलीहरुसंग बिहाबारी पनि गरेकाछन्) ।

थारु, मुस्लिम, राजवंशी आदि पनि तराइकै बासिन्दा भएपनि मधेशीमा गनिंदैनन् भने राजपूत, मधेशी ब्राम्हण, कायस्थ, यादव, तेली, कुशवाह, कुर्मी, केवट, कलवार इत्यादिलाई मात्र मधेशी मानिन्छ, जो मैथिलि, भोजपुरी, अवधि जस्ता भाषा बोल्छन् । नेपालको कूल जनसंख्याको ५१ प्रतिशत तराइमा बसोबास गरे पनि मधेशी कहलिएका २२ प्रतशित मात्र छन् । साथै यी दलहरुलाइ तराइकै मतदाताहरुले बहिस्कार गरकोबाट पनि यिनको दावीमा तराइैका मतदाता सहमत छैनन् भन्ने प्रष्टिन्छ । त्यसैले आधा भन्दा बढी जनसंख्यालाई बिभेद गरियो भन्ने सुगारटाई तथ्यांकीय हिसाबबाट र वास्तविकताको हिसाबबाट पनि गलत छ ।

संवैधानिक व्यवस्था
यस पंक्तिकारले २०७२ सालको संविधानको विश्लेषण गर्दा पनि बिभेद गरिएको देखिंदैन, बरु सामान्य नेपाली नागकरिकलाई भन्दा मधेशीहरुलाई बढी हक अधिकारले सुसम्पन्न गरिएकोछ । यी कुराहरु संविधानको प्रस्तावना, मौलिक अधिकार, नेपाली सेना सम्बन्धी व्यवस्था, सरकारी सेवाको गठन आदि प्रावधानको विश्लेषणबाट देखिन्छ ।

सबैले जान्नै पर्ने कुरा के हो भने सबै कुरा बिस्तृतरुपमा संविधानमा उल्लेख गर्न सकिन्न । संविधान त कानूनको मूलश्रोत हो र अन्य कुरा संविधानसंग नबाझिने गरेर ऐन, नियम आदिमा व्यवस्था गरिन्छ । कथं संविधानमा भएको मधेशीको लागि गरेको विशेष व्यवस्था विपरित कानून बनेमा असंवैधानिक ठहरेर स्वतः अमान्य हुन्छ ।

समानुपातिक समावेशी
यी दलहरुको मुख्य गुनासो नैं नेपालमा पहिलो पटक जनताद्वारा निर्वाचित संविधानसभा आफैले निर्माण गरेर जारी गरेको (यस अघिका सबै संविधान राजाले आफुमा निहित मानेको सार्वभौमसत्ता र राजकियसत्ता प्रयोग गरेर जारी गर्थे) संविधान न त समानुपातिक छ, न समावेशी नैं भन्ने रहेकोछ । तर संविधानको प्रस्तावनामा नैं “समानुपातिक समावेशी समाजको निर्माण गर्ने” कुरा स्पष्टरुपमा लेखिएबाट यी दलहरुको गुनासो जायज छैन भन्ने प्रष्टिन्छ । यी दलहरुले जनआन्दोलनमा यही कुराहरु उठाएकै भएर यो संविधानको प्रस्तावनामा नैं यो शब्दावलि उल्लिखित छ । जुन कुरा बिगतमा बनेका नेपालका संविधानहरुमा व्यवस्था थिएन ।

समानताको हक
संविधानको धारा १८ को उपधारा (१) मा “सबै नागरिक कानूनको दृष्टिमा समान हुनेछन्” भन्ने घोषणा गरिएकोछ र उपधारा (२) मा “उत्पत्ति, धर्म, वर्ण, जात, जाती, लिंग, शारीरिक अवस्था, अपांगता, स्वास्थ्य स्थिति, वैवाहिक स्थिति, गर्भावस्था, आर्थिक अवस्था, भाषा, क्षेत्र, बैचारिक आस्था वा यस्तै कुनै आधारमा भेदभाव गरिने छैन” भनिएकोले कुनै पनि नागरिकमाथि कुनै पनि प्रकारले बिभेद गर्नु असम्बैधानिक हुनेछ । यस परिवेशमा मधेशी माथि बिभेद गरिएकोछ भन्ने यी दलहरुलको भनाई कुनै पनि हिसाबले सहि होइन, भनाइ आफै असंवैधानिक छ ।

यस अतिरिक्त उपधारा (३) को प्रतिबंधात्मक वाक्यांशमा मधेशी “नागरिकको संरक्षण, सशक्तिकरण वा विकासका लागि कानून बमोजिम विशेष व्यवस्था” गर्ने प्रावधान छ । यो व्यवस्थाले अन्यको तुलनामा मधेशीले विशेष संरक्षण पाउने छन् र सशक्तिकरण वा विकासको भागिदार हुनेछन् । तराइमै बस्ने अन्यले भन्दा मधेशीले यसरी बढी सुविधा पाउने छन् र मधेशी जहां बसे पनि यो सुविधाबाट बंचित हुंदैन । अर्थात नेपालका अरु सबै नागरिक समान छन् भने मधेशीहरु “बढी समान” छन् । यो वाक्यांशमा “आर्थिक रुपले विपन्न” खस आर्यले पनि यी सुविधा पाउने व्यवस्था छ । अर्थात खस आर्य आर्थिकरुपमा विपन्न नभएमा यस्तो सुविधा पाउंदैनन् । तर मधेशीले भने आर्थिक रुपले बिपन्न नभए पनि यो प्रतिबंधात्मक व्यवस्थाले दिएको सुविधा उपभोग गर्न पाउंछन् ।

समग्रमा संविधानले बिभेद गरेकै छैन र अझ विशेष संरक्षण, सशक्तिकरण वा विकासको भागिदार गराउने व्यवस्था गरिएकोमा मधेशी जनतालाई अन्यौलमा पारेर आन्दोलन गर्ने, आतंक फैलाउने, हिंसाहत्या गर्ने, देशलाई बन्धक बनाउने र भारतको सहयोगमा नाकाबन्दीमा पार्ने काम शोभनिय होइन ।

सामाजिक न्यायको हक
धारा ४२ मा स्पष्टतः मधेशीलाई पनि “समावेशी सिद्धान्तका आधारमा राज्यको निकायमा सहभागिताको हक” हुने व्यवस्था गरेकोछ । अर्को शब्दमा खस आर्य आदिले समावेशीताको आधारमा राज्यको निकायमा सहभागिताको अपेक्षा गर्न सक्दैन समानताको आधारमा मात्र पाउंछन् भने मधेशीले समावेशीताको आधारमा सहभागिता गर्ने व्यवस्था गरेको संविधानले कसरी बिभेद गरेकोछ भन्ने कुरा सिद्ध गर्ने काम चुनौतिपूर्ण छ ।

यस प्रावधान अन्तर्गत मधेशीलाई ऐन बनाएर आरक्षणको व्यवस्था गरिनेछ र राज्यको निकायमा समावेशीताको आधारमा सहभागिता दिलाइनेछ ।

नेपाली सेनामा प्रवेश
बिगतमा नेपाली सेनामा मधेशीलाई प्रवेश दिइएन, पक्षपात÷बिभेद गरिन्छ भन्ने गुनासो धेरै सुनिएको हो । हुन त खुल्ला प्रतिश्पर्धाबाट समानताको आधारमा प्रवेश गर्न कसैलाई कहिल्यै बन्देज लगाइएको थिएन (नेपाली सेनामा मधेशीहरु कार्यरत नभएको हुंदै होइन) । तर नयां संविधानको धारा २६७ मा मधेशीले समानताको आधारमा मात्र होइन समावेशी सिद्धान्तको आधारमा पनि प्रवेश गर्न पाउने व्यवस्था गरेकोछ । फेरि खस आर्यकै उदाहरण लिने हो भने समानताको सिद्धान्तमा यिनले नेपाली सेनामा प्रवेश पाउन सक्छन् भने मधेशीले त समानताको अलावा समावेशी सिद्धान्तको आधारमा पनि प्रवेश पाउने संवैधानिक व्यवस्था छ ।

सरकारी सेवा प्रवेश
नेपाली सेनामा जस्तै सरकारी सेवामा पनि मधेशी प्रति बिभेद गरिन्छ भन्ने गुनासो सुनिएकै हो, तथापि खुल्ला प्रतिश्पर्धामा समावेश भएर सरकारी सेवामा प्रवेश गर्न कसैलाई रोक लगाइएको थिएन । यद्यपि नयां संविधानको धारा २८५ मा “समानुपातिक समावेशी सिद्धान्तको आधारमा” पदपूर्ति गर्ने व्यवस्था भएबाट पनि मधेशीले निश्चित अनुपातमा समानुपातिक आधारमा पनि प्रवेश पाउने हुन्छ । जसको लागि कानूनद्वारा आरक्षण गरिन्छ ।

सकारात्मक बिभेद
माथिको बिबेचनाबाट के देखियो भने संविधानमा कतै पनि मधेशीलाई यो यस तरीकबाट बिभेद गरिन्छ, गर्नुपर्छ भनिएको छैन र यी दलहरुले पनि यो यस्तो धाराले बिभेद गर्दछ भन्न सकेको छैन । त्यसैले हचुवाको भरमा बिभेद गरिएकोछ छ भन्ने भुरेटाकुरे मधेशी दलहरुको भनाई पूर्णतः कपोलकल्पित तथा झुट्ठा हो । यस बिपरित वर्तमान संविधान अनुसार अन्य सबै नागरिक समान हुनेमा मधेशीहरु बढी समान हुने, नेपाली सेना, सरकारी सेवा आदि राज्यका निकायहरुमा समावेशीताको सिद्धान्तको आधारमा प्रवेश पाउने लगायतको व्यवस्था छ, जसलाई सकारात्मक बिभेद भनिन्छ ।

यसरी मधेशीको लागि सकारात्मक बिभेद गरेर संविधान जारी भएकोमा बिभेद (नकरात्मक) गरियो भनेर भारतको आडमा नेपालको अर्थतन्त्र तहसनहस पार्ने, बिरामी बालबालिकालाई औषधोपचारबाट बंचित गर्ने, मूलधारका राजनैतिक दलहरुको तराई स्थित कार्यालयहरु तोडफोड गर्ने, पुलपुलेसा जस्ता पूर्वाधारसंरचना ध्वस्त पार्ने, जिउंदो मानिसलाई पेट्रोल छर्केर आगो लगाउने, सुरक्षाकर्मीहरुको हत्या गर्ने कामलाई कसै गरेर पनि युक्तिसंगत मान्न सकिन्न ।

यी दलहरुले संविधानको यो व्यवस्थाको अज्ञानतामा, नबुझेर, बुझ्न नचाहेर, बुझेर पनि बुझपचाएर आन्दोलनको नाममा आतंक मच्चाएको हिमाल, पहाड तराईका अधिकांश जनताले बुझी सकेकाछन् । तराईका बासिन्दा मात्र होइन, धेरै मधेशी समुदायका व्यक्तिहरुले पनि बुझ्न बांकी छैन ।

राज्यसत्ता (सत्तापक्ष र बिपक्ष जसले संविधानसभाद्वारा पारित संविधानमा दस्तखत—कूल सभासद संख्याको झण्डै ९० प्रतिशतले—गरेर जारी गरेकाछन्)ले पनि यी कुरा मधेशी दलहरुलाई बुझाउन नसक्नु, बुझाउने प्रयास नगर्नुुलाई जनताले नालायकि मान्दछन् र शंका समेत गर्छन कि कतै दूधको साक्षी बिरालोको खेल त भै राखेको छैन, भारतीय अभिष्टको सन्दर्भमा । राज्यसत्ताको अबको पहिलो कदम भनेको मधेशीको लागि गरिएको यस प्रकारको सकारात्मक बिभेद बारे तराईमा व्यापक सचेतना अभियान चलाउनु पर्दछ ।

Ratna Sansar Shrestha

२०७२ मंसिर १८ गतेको नागरिकमा प्रकाशित

Monday, November 23, 2015

भारतीय नाकाबन्दी, नेपालको जलश्रोत र संघियता

दशैं, तिहार र छठ जस्ता नेपालीका महत्वपूर्ण चाडहरुको पूर्वसन्ध्यामा भारतले, अघोषित भनिएको, नाकाबन्दी लगाएर नेपाललाई दण्डित गरेकोछ, भुरेटाकुरे मधेशी दलहरुको समर्थनमा । यहि अवस्था कायम रहे इसाइहरुको वडा चाड क्रिष्टमस पनि प्रभावित हुनेछ । नेपाली मतदाताले संविधानसभामा निर्वाचित गरेका ९० प्रतशित भन्दा बढी सभासदले अनुमोदन गरेर संविधान जारी गरेको सजाय स्वरुप भारतले नाकाबन्दी गरेकोछ । मधेशी दलहरुले अघि सारेका प्रमुख मागहरु हुनः जनसंख्याको (भूगोललाई उपेक्षा गरेर) मात्र आधारमा निर्वाचन क्षेत्र हुनुपर्ने, निरपेक्षढंगबाट समानुपातिक प्रतिनिधित्व हुनुपर्ने, अंगिकृत नागरिकले उच्चपदासीन हुन पाउनुपर्ने, उनीहरुले चाहे जस्तो सीमांकन गरिनुपर्ने, निर्वाचन क्षेत्रको हरेक १० वर्षमा पुनःनिर्धारण हुनुपर्ने, इत्यादि ।

नाकाबन्दीले गर्दा अर्थतन्त्रमा ठूलो नकरात्मक प्रभाव परेको छ, जुन बैशाख १२ गते आएको भूकम्प र यहि मंसिर १ गते समेत निरन्तर आइरहेका परकम्पहरुले ध्वस्त बनाएको भौतिक संरचना र जनधनको क्षतिबाट माथि उठ्न नेपाल प्रयासरत रहंदा । नाकाबन्दीले गर्दा सबैतिरको जनजीवन अस्तव्यस्त भयो, पहाडतिर भन्दा बढी तराइमा । कच्चापदार्थ र उर्जाको अभावमा उद्योगधन्दा बन्द भए, निर्वाहमुखी औद्योगिक मजदूर सबभन्दा बढी पीडित भए । तर नाकाबन्दीले दुईधारे तरबारले जस्तै भारतका व्यवसायी पनि अछुतो रहेका छैनन् ।

तराइमा एक प्रदेश
भुरेटाकुरे मधेशी दलहरुको धेरै माँगहरु मध्ये सीमांकनलाई प्रमुख भनिएको छः मधेशीको पहिचानको आधारमा पहाडी भेगसंग नजोडिकन तराइका २२ जिल्लाहरुको एक प्रदेश । तर मधेशी नाम भएको कुनै जातिय समुह ती २२ जिल्लामा छैनन् । यी जिल्लाहरुले नेपालको कूल भूभागको १७ प्रतिशत ओगटेको छ भने कूल जनसंख्याको ५१ प्रतिशतले बसोबास गर्छन्, जसमध्ये मैथिली, भोजपुरी, अवधि, थारु, सन्थाल, राजवंशी आदि समेत २२ प्रतिशतलाई मधेशी भनिएकोछ । यी जातिय समुहका अधिकांश जनता मधेशी कहलिएर एउटै प्रदेश चाहंदैनन्, न चाहन्छन् पहाडसंग छुट्टिएको प्रदेश ।

यो माओवादीले १० वर्षे शसस्त्र बिद्रोह गर्दा उठाइएको जातिय पहिचानमा आधारित राज्यको पुनःसंरचनाको निरन्तरता हो । उक्त दलले यो माँग छाडी सकेकोछ । नेपालमा सय भन्दा बढी जातिय समुहहरु भएकोले पहिचानको आधारमा एउटा सानो मुलुकमा सय भन्दा बढी प्रान्तहरुमा बाँड्न सम्भव छैन ।

संविधानसभामा मस्यौदा संविधान प्रस्तुत गर्दा ६ वटा प्रान्त समावेश गरिएकोमा पछि संशोधन गरेर ७ वटा प्रान्त सहितको संविधान जारी गरियो, जसमा सप्तरी, सिराहा, धनुषा, महोत्तरी, सर्लाही, रौतहट, बारा र पर्सा रहने प्रदेश नं २ को व्यवस्था छ । अब प्रदेश नं २ मा झापा, मोरंग र सुन्सरी (कोशी नदीको बहाव क्षेत्र) थपिनु पर्ने प्रमुख माँग मधेशी मोर्चाको छ । स्पष्टतः यो माँग कोशी नदीमाथि नियन्त्रण कायम गर्ने अभिष्टले आएकोछ ।

जबरजस्ती करकापले गाभ्ने
यी ३ जिल्लाका बासिन्दा प्रदेश नं २ गाभिन तैयार छैनन् र गाभिनु पर्छ भनेर आन्दोलनमा सहकार्य समेत गरेका छैनन् । न गाभ्नै पर्ने अन्य कारण छन् । बरु यी जिल्लाका बासिन्दा २ नं मा गामिन नपरोस् भनेर अान्दोलित भएकाछन् ।

यी जिल्लाहरुको रहनसहन, संस्कृति आदि समेत २ नम्बर प्रान्तसंग एकरुपता छैन । तर आन्दोलनकारी जबरजस्ती, करकापले भए पनि यो कार्य सम्पन्न गर्न चाहन्छन् । यो अभिष्ट पूरा गर्न भारतको सकृय सहयोगमा बीरगंज नाका बन्द गरेको २ महिना हुन लाग्यो ।

भारतको अभिष्ट पानी
भुरेटाकुरे मधेशी दलको आन्दोलन र भारतको नाकाबन्दी एकै समय परेको आश्चर्यजनक छैन । चुनाव प्रचारको क्रममा भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री नरेन्द्र मोदीले “नेपालमा बिजुली कारखाना खोलेर” बिहारमा बिद्युतिकरणको आश्वासन दिए । किनभने नेपालका नदीहरु बिहार हुंदै बगे पनि त्यहां बिजुली उत्पादन सम्भव छैन । त्यस्तै गंगा नदीको जलाधार क्षेत्र भारतको अन्न भण्डार भएतापनि बाह्रैमास सघन खेती गरेर खाद्यान्न उत्पादन गर्न सम्भव छैन, सुक्खायाममा पानीको अभावमा । अर्कोतिर विश्वमा सबभन्दा धेरै जनसंख्या भएको देश बन्नलागेको भारतलाई थप पानीले सिंचित क्षेत्र बढाएर, सघन खेती गरेर अन्न उत्पादन बृद्धि गर्नुपर्ने बाध्यता छ । त्यसैले पानी तथा संघियता जानकारहरुले सहिरुपमा निक्र्योल गरेकाछन् कि तराइ प्रदेशलाइ प्रभावमा पार्ने देखि नियन्त्रण गर्ने सम्म भारतको लक्ष्य छ । त्यसैले भारतको नाङ्गो हस्तक्षेपको सहारा लिएर तराइमा एउटै प्रदेश निर्माण गर्न कम्मर कसेका छन्, यी दलहरुले । (तराइलाई नेपालबाट छुट्ट्याएर अलग्गै देश बनाउने भन्ने हुची भने उपेक्षायोग्य छ ।)

तर कोशी नदीको बहाव क्षेत्र सुन्सरी जिल्लालाई प्रदेश नं २ मा गाभ्दैमा कोशी नदी माथि नियन्त्रण कायम हुंदैन, बरु वर्षातमा बाढीको र सुक्खायाममा खडेरीको समस्या मात्र अपुतालिमा प्राप्त हुन्छ । तराइका जिल्ला नियन्त्रण गरेर नेपालका नदीनाला नियन्त्रण गर्ने भन्ने अवधारणा प्राकृतिक जलचक्रको अज्ञानताको जगमा अडेको देखिन्छ ।

पानीमाथि लाभदायक नियन्त्रण
वर्षातमा बाढी नियन्त्रण र सुक्खायाममा थप/नियन्त्रित पानी उत्पादन गर्नको लागि नदीको व्यवस्थापन गर्न मेची देखि महाकाली सम्मका मध्यपहाडी उपत्यकाहरुमा उच्चबाँधहरु निर्माण गरेर (जस्तै बराहक्षेत्र नजिकै सप्तकोशी उच्चबाँध) पानी माथि भौतिकरुपमा नियन्त्रण कायम गर्न सकिन्छ । तराइमा भौतिक हिसाबले जलाशय निर्माण सम्भव भएपनि वित्तिय हिसाबले पोषाउने गरेर सम्भव छैन भने डुबान र बिस्थापन पनि अत्यधिक हुनेहुनाले गर्नु बुद्धिमत्तापूर्ण हुन्न ।

सुक्खायाममा उपलब्ध हुने थप/नियन्त्रित पानी पिउन र सरसफाइ लगायत सिंचाइ, मत्स्यपालन, जलपरिवहन आदि उपयोगको लागि आवश्यक छ । तर यो सिक्काको अर्को पाटो पनि छ । यस्ता जलाशय निर्माण गर्दा खेतीयोग्य जमिन, वनजंगल आदि डुबानमा पर्छ भने स्थानिय बासिन्दा बिस्थापनमा पर्छन् ।

राज्य पुनःसंरचना पछि माथिल्लो तटीय प्रान्तले आफु डुबान र बिस्थापनमा परेर तल्लो तटीय प्रान्तलाई बाढी नियन्त्रण र सुक्खायाममा थप पानी उपलब्ध गराउन असहमत भएको अन्तरराष्ट्रिय अनुभव छ र यसको लागि माथिल्लो र तल्लो तटीय प्रदेश बीच सहमति, सहयोग, सहकार्य अनिवार्य हुन्छ । यस्तो परिप्रेक्ष्यमा अर्को देशको लागि यीनै त्याग गर्न सम्भव हुन्न । यस पृष्ठभूमिमा प्रदेश नं २ लाई भारतले प्रभावित वा नियन्त्रण गरेर नेपालको पानीमाथि कब्जा जमाउन सम्भव छैन ।

जलश्रोत सम्बन्धी संवैधानिक व्यवस्था
नयां संविधानको अनुसूचि ५ मा संघिय सरकारले मात्र बिदेशी सरकारसंग सम्झौता गर्न सक्ने व्यवस्था हुनाले जलश्रोत सम्बन्धमा पनि यहि लागू हुन्छ । त्यसैले तराइको प्रान्तिय सकारले भारतसंग सम्झौता गरेर नेपालको जलश्रोत भारतको कब्जामा पु¥याउन सक्दैन । यस्तै सप्तकोशी उच्च बाँध जस्ता आयोजना बहुउद्देश्यीय हुने र यस्ता आयोजना पनि संघिय सरकारको कार्यक्षेत्रमा पर्दछ । स्मरणिय छ, संविधानका यी व्यवस्था संशोधन हुनुपर्ने माँग आन्दोलनरत दलहरुको छैन । यस परिवेशमा पनि प्रान्त नं २ लाई प्रभावित गरेर पानीमा नियन्त्रण सम्भव छैन ।

अस्वीकार्य पुरानो मोडेल
५० को दशकमा निर्माण प्रारम्भ भएका कोशी र गण्डकी आयोजनाहरु भारतले लगानि गरेर निर्माण गर्दा नेपालको भूभाग डुबानमा परेर बासिन्दा बिस्थापित भए, तर बाढी नियन्त्रण तथा सिंचाइको लाभ जति भारतले एकलौटी पा¥यो । आजको समय र अवस्थामा यो मोडेलमा नेपालको जलश्रोत दोहन सम्भव छैन । नेपालले आवश्यक लगानि गर्नुपर्छ भने नेपालले भोगेको डुबान र बिस्थापनको लागत समानुपातिक हिसाबले भारतले नेपाललाई क्षतिपूर्ति दिनुपर्छ । यसै गरेर भारतले प्राप्त गर्ने तल्लो तटीय लाभबापत पनि नेपाललाई मूल्य चुक्ता गर्नु आवश्यक हुन्छ, अन्तरराष्ट्रिय परिपाटी, चलन, अनुभव आदिको आधारमा ।

तर भारत नयां मोडेलमा आयोजना कार्यान्वयन गर्न चाहंदैन । बरु नेपाल भित्रका प्रान्तिय सरकारलाई प्रभावित पारेर नेपाललाई डुबान र बिस्थापन भोगाएर, लाभ जति एकलौटी पार्न चाहन्छ, आयोजना निर्माणमा केहि खर्च गरेर । स्मरणिय छ, आयोजनाको लागत भनेको तल्लो तटीय भूभागले दीर्घकाल सम्म प्राप्त गर्ने लाभको एउटा सानो अंश मात्र हुन्छ ।

कोहि पनि पराजित नहुने उपाय
त्यसैले नेपाल भारत दुबै लाभान्वित हुने गरेर नेपालको जलश्रोत दोहन गर्ने गरेर आयोजना निर्माण गरिनुपर्दछ । यस्तो निर्माण तराइका जिल्लाहरुमात्र रहेका प्रान्तमा सम्भव हुन्न । नाकाबन्दी गरेर, नेपाली जनता चिढ्याएर यो सम्भव हुन्न । पारस्परिक सद्भाव, सौहार्दताकासाथ सहयोग र सहकार्य गरेर मात्र नेपाल भारत दुबै लाभान्वित हुने गरेर नेपालमा आयोजना निर्माण सम्भव हुन्छ ।

भारतले तुजुक देखाउने हो भने नेपालले आफ्नो आवश्यकता मात्र पूर्ति हुने गरेर जलाशययुक्त आयोजना निर्माण गरेमा भारत हिस्स पर्ने हुन्छ । जस्तै ३ हजार ३ सय मेगावाट जडित क्षमता हुने २ सय ६९ मिटर उचाइको सप्तकोशी उच्चबाँधको सट्टा नेपालले आफूलाई सुक्खायाममा सिंचाइ गर्न मात्र पुग्ने गरेर पानी उत्पादन हुनेगरी कोशी नदीमा कम उचाइको बाँध बनाउन सक्नेछ । यस्तो भएमा भारतमा वर्षातमा बाढी र सुक्खायाममा खडेरीले निरन्तरता पाउने अवस्था हुन्छ । यसो गर्दा नेपालको कम भूभाग मात्र डुबानमा पर्छ र बिस्थापन पनि कम मात्र हुन्छ ।

तर यसरी नेपालले जित्ने र भारतले हार्ने गरेर आयोजना निर्माण गर्ने अवस्था आउनु हुन्न । नेपालको जलश्रोतको दोहन गरेर नेपाल र भारत मात्र होइन बंगलादेश पनि लाभान्वित होस् आकांक्षा नेपाली जनताको छ ।

Ratna Sansar Shrestha

२०७२ मंसिर ७ गतेको अन्नपूर्ण पोष्टमा प्रकाशित

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Memorandum submitted to Hon. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli for the management of the crisis resulting from Indian blockade

Honorable Prime Minister,

India's extended blockade against Nepal, now running into third month, has caused much hardship for the people. But the people of Nepal have lived with them patiently in the belief that the government would take necessary measures to mitigate them even as it would continue to protect country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are pleased to submit to you that the whole country has been very appreciative of your prompt move to seek China's support for mitigating our problems as soon as it became clear that it would take longer time to resolve the differences with India regarding the provisions of our Constitution. We note with satisfaction that our close neighbor to the north has been so very kind and forthcoming in helping Nepal at this hour of national crisis. However, the overall situation in the country is worsening by the day, mainly for want of sufficient quantities of petroleum products, and the dwindling availability of medicines and other essential supplies. Therefore, we the undersigned submit to you the following recommendations for your consideration, some for immediate implementation and the rest for priority action.

1. Immediate term measures

1.1 Supply of petroleum products and medicines
The government must redouble its efforts to ease the situation in these two areas on priority basis. Firstly, special efforts should be made through all possible diplomatic channels with India to work out the easing of the blockade by India. Secondly, as a viable alternative to it, Nepal should make special request to China to significantly increase the supply of petroleum products to Nepal through all possible channels. Regarding medical supplies in particular which are running calamitously short in the country, the government should request China for emergency air delivery of some basic medicines to Kathmandu and arrange for its airborne supplies also from our south Asian neighbor, Bangladesh.

1.2 Suspend federalization provision until the people have been consulted
The root cause for most of the current problems of the country has been the federalization provision of the new constitution. In this regard, we would like to submit to you the following.
Firstly, federalization of the country has never been the demand of the people, and it has been imposed by the Maoists in 2063 and reluctantly accepted by the two major parties NC and UML.
Secondly, we particularly note that, according to democratic tradition, all major changes in polity are done only after they are approved in a referendum. But the decision to federalize the country has never been referred to the people. We further note that in the consultation meetings held across the country before the adoption of the new constitution, the people had reportedly overwhelmingly opined against federalizing the country. But unfortunately, that was not taken into account.

Thirdly, and most importantly, Nepal's variegated geography would help Nepal become a prosperous state only if used as an integrated whole. For instance, the 750 MW West Seti Hydropower Project would submerge some 2000 ha of land in four hill districts in far west region and displace some 16,000 people but would irrigate 360,000 ha of land in the Tharu heartland of Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts, and would power industrial and agricultural development of the country that is bound to take place mostly in the Tarai region. Given the fact that the landlessness of the farmers is most pronounced in the Tarai region, poverty in the Tarai can be mitigated only by promoting accelerated and expanded agro-industrial development in the region. Besides, the West Seti Project is estimated to yield 15 billion rupees in annual revenue that would significantly contribute to national development, including in the far west hill districts where the project is to be built. The same is true of Upper Karnali, Arun-3 and many other such projects. We are afraid that if the country were to be broken up into different autonomous provinces, this project and many similar projects in the hill regions that hold out so much promise for development all over the country probably would never be built, assuring continued pauperization of the people of Nepal. Furthermore, in regard to the present proposal to demarcate the entire Tarai belt as one province, we further add that due to excessive extraction of ground water in adjacent India, the water level in the Tarai is rapidly depleting, so that Tarai's water needs can be met only by training the rivers in the hill regions in the north. For all these reasons, we believe that the present demand for the demarcation of the Tarai as one province is devoid of any logical rationale and therefore, is totally ill-intentioned. Therefore, we strongly urge that necessary steps be taken to suspend the federalization process and subject it to a dispassionate scientific investigation as to its potential benefits and drawbacks for the country as a whole.
1.3. Inform international agencies and engage with leaders of powerful nations

Since the Indian blockade violates all international norms and covenants that assure a landlocked country's right to unrestricted passage to the sea, we strongly urge that the government should inform all related international agencies like the UNO, WTO, ILO, and so on and invite their missions for on-site examination of the problem and take measures to remove the blockade as soon as possible. Since India as an emerging power in the world is also in constant contact with all major nations in the world -- whose support would be crucial for India to pursue her ambition to become a permanent member of the UN Security Counci l-- Nepal should also inform the leaders of all major powers and seek their good offices to pile pressure on India on behalf of this landlocked country.

1.4. Engage with India to continue to discuss the shifting bottom lines
Given our geographical position, Nepal has to remain engaged with India for all times to come, culturally, economically and so on. Therefore, continuing to engage with her constitutes an essential condition for restoring good relations with Indian government. This should be done through both formal and informal contacts even as Nepal continues to make other arrangements for diversifying our links to the international markets.

2. Protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and governance
We further observe that India, our neighbor to the south, has been consistently creating hurdles for landlocked Nepal, including clamping of embargo at regular intervals. We are convinced that Nepal must seek other external support to countervail India when our own sovereignty and territorial integrity is at stake. To that end we make the following recommendations:
2.1. Sign a strong friendship pact with China

Since Nepal has all along been seen as a "yam between two boulders" and has entered into a very strong peace and friendship treaty with India, it is only logical that Nepal also sign similar far-reaching treaty with China, so that in times of crisis, Nepal has recourse to two neighbors to the north and to the south. We believe that such an arrangement would go a long way towards securing our sovereignty, territorial integrity and state of peace in the country.

2.2. Deepen relationship with China in a multi-faceted manner
Since the emerging super power to our north, the People Republic of China, has been kind, generous and supportive of our national aspirations historically, we further recommend that the government go for further deepening of cultural and economies ties with China in a multifaceted manner. This should include opening up of many transport and communication links with that country along the entire range of our northern border.

2.3. Set up citizenship investigation commission
We believe the current turmoil in the Tarai has much to do with the fact that citizenship certificates have been indiscriminately distributed in the region in the past with the result that many bonafide citizens of India have also obtained Nepali citizenship certificate, and some of the holders of such certificates have been known to misuse it for criminal purposes detrimental to both Nepal and India. Therefore, in order to nullify the citizen certificates obtained by ineligible people and also to grant such certificates to those who have not received it despite being legally eligible, the government should set up a high powered commission composed of known experts to go into the matter on priority basis.

2.4. Regulate southern border
We further note that the open border between Nepal and India has often been problematical for Nepal with criminal elements moving to and fro across the border without any difficulty. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the government consider regulating the border in such a way that the border crossing does not become too problematical for the local people, even as the government has the information base about the movement of the people between the two countries.

2.4. Take lawful action against law breakers
While the overall governance situation of the country has left much to be desired over the years, in recent months the people have been witness to even graver violations of law and order in some sections of Tarai in the name of protests and blockade, with the culprits getting away with them with impunity. Therefore, in order to assure the countrymen of their personal safety and the proper conduct of society, the government must swing into action and take appropriate legal actions against those law breakers as a matter of urgency.

3. Streamlining development priorities and strategies
Much of the problems today also have their roots in lack of effective development over the decades in the country. This has made easy for the ethnic leaders to attract following among various ethnic groups by alleging discrimination being inflicted by the state or various privileged groups. Therefore, we recommend that the following measures be implemented with high priority.
3.1. Hydropower projects to meet Nepal's power needs first

While Nepal remains a chronically and acutely power deficit country, there have been recent decisions to award power project to foreign developers for export rather than helping ameliorate Nepal’s chronic loadshedding. We consider this absolutely wrong morally as well as a development priority. Since power is an absolutely necessary condition for country's development, we strongly urge the government to commit itself to a policy that all hydropower projects would be installed exclusively for the purpose of meeting Nepal's own ever expending power needs first and considering export only after Nepal’s needs have been met.

3.2. Institute participatory development at the grassroots to enable all communities to preside over their own destiny

One of the reasons for ethnicity-based demands has been that most people in the country have been unable to experience improvements in their living standards all these years. They have only been witness to the continued prosperity of a handful of feudal elites in their own communities as well as nationally both in the hills and in the Tarai. Therefore, in order to end this development-deficit condition in the country once and for all, we ask that a widely participatory process of development be instituted so that all individuals in the country get to participate in the development process leading to sustained and equitable improvements in the living conditions of all the people in the country. In this regard, we find it necessary to draw the attention of the government to the internationally-applauded success of several sets of participatory organizations at the grassroots, the forest user groups, community electricity users’ group, the mothers' groups as well as other community managed natural resource systems. While the first has dramatically restored Nepal's once totally depleted forests, the second has reduced theft to zero where implemented besides promoting local industry, the third have put Nepal at the top of international ranking in achieving MDGs in child survival and maternal mortality reduction. Nepal has enough success stories it can draw on for its own rapid development if only the political leadership turns its eyes towards Nepal’s inherent strengths rather than look only for international donations.
Yours truly,

1. Marshal Julum Shakya
2. Hiranya Lall Shrestha
3. Dipak Gyawali
4. Prof. Dr. Surendra K.C
5. Prof. Bhupa Prasad Tripathi
6. Bharat Basnet
7. Ratna Sansar Shrestha
8. Ratan Bhandari
9. Sadhya Bahadur Bhandari
10. Mani Thapa
11. Tanka Nath Paudel
12. Achyut Gyawali
13. Ananda Ram Paudel
14. Babu Ram Singh Thapa
15. Aditya Man Shrestha
16. Bihari Krishna Shrestha
17. Leela Mani Paudel
18. Sheetal Babu Regmi
19. Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
20. Jagat Bhusal
21. Dwarika Nath Dhungel
22. Dr Surya Raj Acharya
23. Punya Gautam ‘Bishwas’
24. Govinda Upadhyaya

November 21, 2015 submitted on the auspices of Rastriya Jagaran Parishad-Nepal

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Re: India's vested interest in Nepal's water & federalism

Dear Shah

The viciousness of your attack (unethical writing!) has convinced me that I have hit the bull’s eye and that my assessment is correct.

Yes, many a people have tagged me anti-India, which I am not; I am merely pro-Nepal, while some people today wouldn’t like to be called pro-Nepal or seen writing or talking as such. Besides, it is better to be called anti-India than pro-India. Your email has been eye-opener for me in recognizing people.

Yes, many a “pro-India” planners consider me ‑ “a barrier to hydropower development in Nepal.” I am against “development” which would leave Nepal with negative externalities (the term used by environmentalists) and have India hog all positive externalities. I am for hydropower development, which would ensure win-win for both neighbors, even Bangladesh.

My article doesn’t have anything to do with Madheshi or Khas Bahun-Chetri or for that matter RED (I don’t believe in any kind of communism); incidentally you need to note that I too am an indigenous nationality inhabiting Kathmandu valley since several generations, who too have suffered under Khas Bahun-Chetri.

After attacking with such viciousness, you are asking me to “take it with good sense”; almost exactly like India telling Nepal people that she hasn’t blockaded Nepal.

Wishing all the best in your endeavor related to water.

Reply to email from Shree Govind Shah

Dear Ratna Sansar,

Thanks for sending me your article which I found very much “insensible and unethical writing” from a well-known person like you. Well! You have been recognised as “anti-India” and all the time you opposed “Investment from India on hydropower development”. Many water resources Nepali planners consider you “a barrier to hydropower development in Nepal”. We have been together in many seminars and I remember on many occasions hydropower people made joke of you. But you are brave; never tired of writing “anti-India” articles!!! BRAVO

But this time you have crossed the border and have attacked the sensitiveness of Nepalese Madheshi like the ruling Khas Bahun-chhetris did. Did you write so to please the RED government? I have attached your article with my comments and suggestions. I think you will take it with good sense.

Best regards,
Dr. Shree Govind Shah
Ecologist, Environment Planning and Policy Analyst

Friday, November 6, 2015

India’s Vested Interest in Nepal’s Water and Federalism

India has meted out punishment to Nepal and Nepali people in the form of blockade/embargo (tagged “unofficial”) on the eve of series of important festivals of Dashain, Tihar and Chhath in support of Madhesi parties’ demand: electoral constituency based on population without regard to geography, absolute proportional representation, no restriction on naturalized citizens ascending to high posts, demarcation of boundaries as they wished, 10 yearly delineation of electoral constituency (instead of 20 years), etc.

The blockade has resulted in overwhelming adverse impact on the economy that was tottering in the wake of devastation caused by the great earthquake of 25th April and number of aftershocks. Life of common people became paralyzed and put out of gear; more so in Tarai than in hills. Industrial production has come to a grinding halt for lack of fuel and raw materials; subsistence level factory workers suffering the most. The impact was like a double-edged sword, not sparing Indian business community dependent on business with Nepal.

Single state in southern plains
The agitating parties’ main demand is creation of single province based on identity of Madhesi people comprising 22 districts in Southern plains bordering India. Unfortunately for the agitating parties, no single coherent and homogenous ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious and casteist (ethnocentric) community of Madhesi exists anywhere in Nepal, lest in Tarai, which occupies 17% of total area of Nepal inhabited by 51% of national population of which only 22% are deemed to be Madhesi; a conglomerate of Maithili, Rajbangsi, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Tharu, Santhal, etc. Besides most of 22% do not favour province for Tarai separated from hills.

This demand stems for concept of creating provinces on the basis of identities of various communities (ethnocentric federalism) advocated by Maoists during 10-year long armed insurgency. As there are over 100 ethnocentric communities in a small country like Nepal, she could end up with over 100 provinces, if provinces are created on the basis identities; an unfeasible and untenable proposition. It will not bode well for nascent federalism as it could result in unravelling of national identity and fostering of centrifugal tendencies.

Draft constitution had provision for 6 provinces; the constitution that was finally promulgated after an amendment increased it to 7, including province number 2 comprising Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts. Failing to ensure single province in Tarai, Madhesi parties are reconciled to the idea of more than one province, but are insisting on inclusion of Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa districts in this province (Koshi floodplain) in province # 2. This demand of theirs is obviously centred on exercising control over Koshi River.

Forced “union”
Inhabitants of these 3 districts, however, don’t wish to be included in province # 2; the farce is the endeavour to have these included in province # 2 by force: against “federal” government (although, government in Kathmandu is not a federal government yet, since federalism has not been implemented) and against the wishes of people of concerned districts. Conversely, there is no clamour in these districts to be included in province # 2; rather it is highly likely that there would be strong protest/agitation if these districts were merged forcefully with province # 2.

Vested interest in Nepal’s water resources
Coincidence of agitation by Madhesi parties and Indian blockade is strange. Delivering speeches in Bihar recently during election campaign, Indian premier Narendra Modi promised voters electricity from Nepal. Although water from rivers of Nepal do flow through India, it is not possible to generate hydropower in the plains. Similarly, although Ganga basin is Indian food granary, year-round cultivation of land is not possible for lack of irrigation during 8 months of dry season: limiting food-crop production required to meet burgeoning population growth. In this backdrop, pundits of federalism/water resource have rightly opined that India has vested interest in Nepal’s water resources and expects to be able to keep single Tarai based province under her influence and control Nepal’s rivers. Therefore, it is important from Indian perspective to create this particular province; hence, the clamour of Madhesi parties with covert Indian support. [However, the report about Indian support for secession of Tarai from rest of Nepal deserves to be ignored.]

What seems to have been lost sight of is the fact that control over rivers of Nepal, specifically Koshi River by bringing Koshi flood plain under province # 2, will result in having to continue to deal with rainy season flood and inundation—with resultant involuntary displacement—and drought or similar situation rest of the year. The premise of control over Koshi water in this manner, for example, is apparently based on ignorance of hydrological cycle.

Beneficial control over water
Physically and from the perspective of management of water, control over Nepal’s rivers can be exercised by building a string of high dam storage projects in mid-hills (for example Sapta Koshi High Dam on Koshi River near Barahakshetra), resulting in creation of a number of reservoirs from Mechi through Mahakali, with appurtenant benefit of flood control and lean season augmented flow (exemplified by present Koshi barrage from which Indian state of Bihar benefits from both flood control and irrigation in miniscule quantum during wet season only). Such reservoirs can control rainy season flood in downstream areas of Nepal and UP, Bihar and Bengal in India and even in Bangladesh. Further, these can “produce” lean season augmented flow, which would avail valuable/precious fresh water during dry season both in Nepal and northern India and Bangladesh; benefitting from temporal/seasonal transfer of water for drinking and sanitation, irrigation, fisheries and animal husbandry, navigation, etc.

A win-win scenario as such for both Nepal and India cannot be achieved by creating a separate province in Tarai, where it is almost impossible to build storage projects. Theoretically, however, it is possible in Tarai too but the cost, in terms of money, land and most importantly displacement, would be exorbitantly high compared to meagre benefit that would accrue.

Even within Nepal, after implementation of federalism it would be difficult to build reservoir projects due to conflict potential between upstream and downstream riparian provinces. Why would upstream province agree to suffer from negative externalities of inundation and involuntary displacement in order to have downstream province benefit from positive externalities of flood control and lean season augmented flow? Hence, it is shortsighted to dream of controlling, for example Koshi river water, by controlling province number 2.

Constitutional provision re water resources
In accordance with Schedule 5 of the new Constitution, treaties with foreign governments fall under federal government, which implies that if a treaty needs to be executed to tame rivers in Nepal, it is beyond the jurisdiction of any provincial government. Similarly, multipurpose projects (Sapta Koshi High Dam is an example) too are under the purview of federal government. Therefore, nothing will be achieved by being able to control province # 2.

Win-win scenario
A win-win scenario can be achieved by building high dam projects in Nepal not only to generate high value peak energy but also to produce water in dry season. But this scenario would be precluded if a separate province in southern plain is created where no multipurpose project could be built for temporal/seasonal transfer of water and generation of high value clean/renewable energy. Furthermore, antagonizing people of Nepal by imposing blockade also will not help achieve the win-win scenario.

Conversely, if India continues to be haughty and endeavours to “control” Nepal’s rivers covertly, she will end up in a no-win scenario. Because Nepal can go ahead with building storage projects tailored to meet her own need of lean season augmented flow with India continuing to suffer from the vagaries of flood-drought syndrome. For example, instead of building 269-meter high dam generating 3,300 MW of power on Koshi River, Nepal can build dam with lower height to generate only about 600 MW. It will result in reduced negative externalities for Nepal (lesser quantum of inundation and displacement), but generate lean season augmented flow adequate to cater for Nepal’s own requirement. If something as unfortunate is to take place, India will be deprived from benefits of flood control and lean season augmented flow for several generations to come, besides losing an age-old friend who helped India through thick and thin.

This is a win-lose scenario (Nepal benefitting but India deprived) and this is not the denouement that people of Nepal, irrespective of whether living in Tarai or hills, wish for. People in Nepal are looking forward to harnessing Nepal’s water resources in the ways that would benefit both the neighbours, even Bangladesh in the downstream.

Published in People’s Review of November 6, 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

FDI in Hydropower and Choice of Jurisdiction

Nepal is facing severe energy crisis, not only in regard to electricity from hydropower but also with other energy sources such petrol, natural gas, and coal. Because nature hasn’t endowed Nepal with these minerals, Nepal has incurred a huge balance of trade deficit as imports have been surpassing exports many times over. The balance of trade deficit was more than Rs. 600 billion in last fiscal year (import more than 6 times of export). The import of fossil fuel alone contributed Rs. 140 billion to the trade deficit while import of electricity amounted to Rs 8.25 billion. (It is indeed strange that a country deemed rich in hydropower is having to import electricity from India!); These deficits are putting pressure on balance of payment as well.

At the end of the most recent fiscal year, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) system had only 787 MW installed capacity while peak demand for Nepal was 1,200 MW. NEA supplied 458 MW from its own sources and 216 MW was generated by independent power producers (IPPs) and 116 MW was imported. However, in spite of the imports, there was a shortfall of 410 MW. Meanwhile, another 700 MW power was generated from standby generators, which required imported petroleum products for operation. All told, still, only 45% of the population had access to electricity supplied by NEA while industries need additional 1,000 MW (an estimate) to operate at full capacity and to enable new industries to be established.

If Nepal could generate enough hydroelectricity to meet its current demands, we could reduce the trade deficit by making LPG for kitchens and diesel for irrigation pumps unnecessary. Currently there is a 1,000 MW demand for kitchens and 700 MW demand for irrigation pumps. The electrification of transportation, which would require another 500 MW, could also help reduce petroleum consumption. This would also reduce our balance of trade/payment deficit. Considering all these needs together, Nepal will require an additional 5,000 MW of energy. And, in five years time, that requirement will double if we are to achieve normal economic growth. Current demand projections have been made under suppressed economic growth scenario. Nepal will need a higher quantum of electricity to achieve accelerated economic growth, which would be needed to elevate Nepal from the status of “developing country.”

Nepal has been endowed with ample water resources. This potential could be harnessed to meet our current energy needs and also to export. But hydropower projects are capital intensive and entail long gestation period for construction and installation/erection. Investors often cannot recover their investmnet and return thereon until after the projects are commissioned and debt service obligation has been fully met.

Therefore, proper and timely financing is key to the solution of Nepal’s balance of trade deficit and energy problems. Although sufficient funds for hydropower development can be mobilized from within the country, foreign direct investment (FDI) also has an important role to play in harnessing hydropower potential.

FDI and Lack of Confidence in Nepal’s Legal System
Nepal’s legal system is a leading obstacle to foreign investment. Many foreign investors do not have confidence in Nepal’s legal system: its body of law, the judiciary, and legal experts. Foreign investors insist on being afforded right to choose foreign jurisdiction, which means that all associated hydropower documents and agreements (project development, power purchasing, loan documentation) are governed by the law of a specific foreign country for settling potential disputes.

Choice of Law to Govern Documents
Prior to the amendment of the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA) in 1996, the choice of law to govern documents related to foreign investment was not exercisable even if a project was financed with FDI. However, as it was not expressly prohibited anywhere in the law, except for activities under FITTA, involving foreign parties, the liberty to choose existed per se, but enforcement of the same was dubious for lack of legal mandate.

In this backdrop, it was deemed imperative that FITTA be amended to afford choice of governing law to foreign investors (sponsors of Khimti project, at that time, insisted on choosing foreign jurisdiction) so as to make investment in Nepal more attractive. Therefore, FITTA was amended by adding Subsection (4) in Section 7, which stipulated that “disputes arising in regard to foreign investment made in the industries with investment as prescribed may be settled as mentioned in the foreign investment agreement.” In this manner it became possible to choose foreign jurisdiction when foreign entities are involved in industries above a certain level of capitalization (in the case of Khimti project, for example, Norwegian jurisdiction was chosen for construction/supply contracts and New York law for loan documentation, while the Project Agreement and power purcase agreement (PPA) were governed by Nepal law). FITTA is also clear that no such choice is available in the case of agreements where no FDI is involved.

Settlement of Dispute by Arbitration
Arbitration is one of the courses available for settling disputes. With the adoption of New York “Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 1958” by the Government of Nepal, foreign arbitral awards have become enforceable by courts in Nepal. Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1999 has a provision for this purpose under which arbitral awards delivered in countries that lack reciprocity with Nepal cannot, however, be enforced in Nepal. Similarly, if the dispute concerned cannot be settled through arbitration under the laws of Nepal and if implementation of arbitral award is detrimental to public policy, such arbitral awards too will not be enforced in Nepal.

In this manner, a foreign investor in a hydropower project in Nepal has been afforded liberty to choose to settle dispute through arbitration held in foreign country under the laws of that country. And there is provision for Appellate Court of Nepal to enforce arbitral awards.

Settlement of Dispute through Judiciary
Although the liberty to choose the laws of a specific foreign country to govern a document is now exercisable, use of judicial decisions for the purpose of settling a dispute, in case the law of a foreign country governs the document, is problematic at best. There are three ways of settlement of dispute through judiciary: (a) settlement by foreign court, (b) settlement by Nepal’s court according to the law of the designated foreign country, and (c) settlement by Nepal’s court in accordance with Nepal law.

The aggrieved party in a hydropower venture with FDI is at liberty to approach the judiciary of the country whose law has been chosen to govern the document. However, enforcement of a foreign court’s judgment in Nepal is not possible under the existing legal environment. Therefore, the whole exercise of getting the judiciary of a foreign country to hand down a verdict to settle a dispute in Nepal is meaningless because verdict will not be implemented in Nepal.

Choosing a foreign jurisdiction also entails having Nepal’s judiciary settle the dispute in accordance with the foreign law chosen in the agreement. But application of a foreign country’s law by a Nepali Court for the settlement of disputes is untenable since it would require Nepali judiciary having facile knowledge of the law in many foreign countries. If judgments under foreign law are to be allowed in Nepal, our courts will have the unenviable and onerous task of interpreting the laws of foreign countries written in foreign languages. At present, Nepal’s courts generally don’t even accept documentation in English.

Moreover, adjudicating litigation that arises out of an agreement governed by foreign law by a Nepali Court by applying Nepali law is also likely to be out of the question. In other words, if a foreign investor has chosen a foreign jurisdiction, such an investor may even be precluded from having the dispute settled by courts in Nepal because it is likely that Nepali courts may refuse to rule on a dispute related to a document written under a foreign jurisdiction. In the present set up of our judiciary structure, the first reaction of a judiciary could be to tell the parties to seek the assistance of the judiciary of the country whose law governs those documents. There are no known precedents in Nepal in this respect. And it is yet to be tested in Nepal’s judiciary. However, an Indian Court reportedly refused to adjudicate a dispute arising out of a document governed by Japanese law; the parties were told to have the dispute settled by Japanese Court.

Our current legal situation is illustrated by following diagram.

Besides arbitration, the three avenues for settlement of disputes through adjudication by judiciary are deemed to be the integral part of the benefit accruing from being allowed to choose foreign law to govern documents by the international community of investors. Thus, there are some problems if the liberty to choose governing law is exercised. In other words, except for the settlement of dispute by arbitration, the right to choose the governing law is meaningless at the moment for settlement of dispute by judiciary.

Published in Issue No. 16 of Hydro Nepal Journal of January 2015

Do your writings bring about any change?

Dear colleague

Thank you for reverting back.

First of all I appreciate the fact that you agree with me that my "reasoning and logic they make sense to Nepal." There are many who disagree with me and some even allege that I do all this to get "paid," which is outright silly as I have explained in my article itself.

Looking at positives there are concerned citizen of Nepal like you who read my writings carefully. Besides, at least few people have started to listen to me. In the past the likes of me were treated as pariah. One concrete evidence of it is me being appointed as a member of National Development Council last year, which approved current plan prepared by NPC.

However, as far as bringing about any change is concerned, the result isn't very encouraging. However, it isn't that discouraging either as proved by following two examples:

We succeeded to get Arun III (201 MW) cancelled by world bank in 1995, which paved path for private sector involvement in hydropower starting with Khimti. Instead of just 201 MW, if Nepal had gone ahead with Arun III, Nepal succeeded to add 355 MW in the system and importantly private sector has been attracted in hydropower sector. If Arun III hadn't been cancelled, there was no way for Khimti to be implemented and consequently, other private sector projects also wouldn't have moved forward. The silver lining of implementation of Khimti, notwithstanding the fact that it has been highly condemned, was that private sector realized that there is profit to be made in hydropower.

Similarly, I count West Seti too as a success. SMEC planned to export peaking electricity from it at less than 5 US cents and provide water free of cost to India. now with CWE developing it, Nepal is being prioritized for electricity and lean season augmented flow of water will be harnessed in Nepal for its multidimensional uses.

I don't know whether these are "small" changes or big ones. In any case I will continue with my crusade till my last breadth.

The other positive aspect lies in "conscience." My writings have succeeded to shake conscience of many, although they may not admit that I am speaking in Nepal's interest. It is easy to wake up a person that is actually asleep, but no sense in trying to wake up a person that is pretending to be asleep.

Second facet of conscience is my own. Future generations to come will blame our generation for the mess that they will inherit due to adverse impact on Nepal's overall economy (having to go abroad for employment, balance of trade and payment deficit for failure to produce in Nepal to at least substitute import), lifestyle, etc. But it will not be possible for them to blame me personally, as I have done my duty by speaking up and telling people that "emperor is not wearing any clothes" contrasted with the masses who are praising the emperor's nonexistent "clothe."

Thanking you once more and with best regards,

Ratna Sansar

On Mar 8, 2015 … … … wrote:

Ratna Sansar ji,

While reading your reasoning and logic they make sense to Nepal. I am just wondering do your writings bring about any change, however small, in Nepal in any quarters? If not, why not?


Friday, March 6, 2015

Hydropower and Hydrocratic Intellectuality

Nepal is facing severe scarcity of, among other commodities and services, energy sources like cooking gas, petroleum products, electricity, etc., which can be mitigated by prudent harnessing of Nepal’s water resources. Whereas Nepal is rich in intellectuals, pseudo intellectuals as well as self-declared and self serving intellectuals (this scribe doesn’t consider himself to be an intellectual, though). But the problem lies in the fact that very few “intellectuals” understand economics of hydropower subsector within water resources sector, economic linkages of hydropower projects (forward, backward, investment and fiscal linkages) to macro and micro economy. Nor do they understand that the concept of optimum harnessing of water resources by rising above the wrong mantra that “river equals hydropower.” Conducting comprehensive options assessment to decide whether Nepal will benefit by building hydropower project at a particular site or putting it to other uses is simply unheard of. Even with respect to hydropower, deciding whether Nepal will benefit from multipurpose reservoir project or run of river project, including optimization based on river basin-wide approach is rare (GoN failed in this respect in projects like UKP). It manifests in what they claim/pretend to understand and the way they pontificate.

There are many self-declared intellectuals in GoN and outside holding important sounding degrees, who general public don’t credit for any intellectuality and no point in discussing them. However, some intellectuals have proved their intellectuality and few amongst such intellectuals, sadly, have demonstrated lack of understanding of economics of hydropower.

Failure to understand high finance
A former finance secretary of GoN, who became popular amongst general public by resigning on the ground of principle, is one. He opined, in an article published in a vernacular daily, that Nepal should allow projects to be implemented and afterwards if the project doesn’t serve Nepal’s interest, Nepal can bring it under her ownership (hope he is NOT advocating expropriation by GoN unconstitutionally). It sounds rather naïve in the backdrop of failure, for example, to have power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Khimti and Bhote Koshi projects amended in Nepal’s interest, notwithstanding the fact that there is consensus amongst voters (general consumers), voted (parliamentarians), business community, bureaucrats and policy makers that these PPAs are detrimental to NEA’s (hence, Nepal’s) interest.

Divert energy for export to Nepal
To reinforce his argument, he adds that if Nepal wishes to buy electricity from export-oriented project at the export tariff, there shouldn’t be any problem. Alas! He doesn’t seem to appreciate the mechanism of “high finance.” As hydropower projects are capital intensive requiring long gestation period and fraught with a number of serious risks, even people possessing ample financial resources don’t implement projects with just equity. Just to share/transfer risks, developers inject just a small portion (around 25 to 30%) of cost as equity and borrow the rest, which involves signing loan agreements. From the perspective of risks, financial intermediaries don’t avail fund without having a PPA in place to mitigate market and revenue risk. Once a PPA for an export-oriented project is signed, it will be well-nigh impossible to divert electricity to Nepal, thereby depriving buyers abroad and breaching PPA and defaulting on loan agreement. The exporter cannot sell to Nepal even if she is to offer higher tariff. It is heartrending that a highly educated person, who had been a finance secretary, doesn’t understand mechanism of hydropower finance.

Nepal will own the project after quarter of century
He also took solace in the fact that after expiry of license period Nepal will own the project. He is correct to the extent that it is an important element of BOOT (build, own, operate and transfer) mechanism. However, there are two important points he has missed. One, it will be grave injustice to deprive people and economy of Nepal from electricity generated in Nepal in order to export (there is no problem exporting excess, though). Installed capacity in Nepal’s system is about 800MW (which generates less than half during dry season), while peak demand, based on suppressed economic growth scenario, was 1,200MW last year. Under normal economic growth scenario Nepal needs more than 6,000MW right now: 2,700MW to provide access to electricity to 100% population as against currently obtaining scenario of access to 45% of population, 700MW to displace standby generators, 1,000MW to power industries at full capacity, 1,000MW to displace LPG from urban and peri-urban kitchens (to displace firewood from rural kitchen will be too ambitious at the moment), 500MW for electrification of transportation, 700MW to displace diesel pumps used for irrigation in Tarai, etc.

Secondly, after expiry of license period, the power plant will become old and dilapidated and will require costly rehabilitation and refurbishment (being past its prime); nor will it be able to generate fully. A groom having borrowed to marry taking comfort in the assurance that the lender will return his bride in 25 years’ time after loan has been fully repaid is a good analogy!

Export mutually un-exclusive with domestic use
There was another intellectual associated with Investment Board who came up with convoluted logic to prove that electricity export and internal use of electricity are "mutually un-exclusive". His logic even defies principle of physics; something used by Tom will not be available to Harry. He may have been pontificating as such on account of the fact that there is stipulation for Upper Karnali Project (UKP) to provide 12% free energy to Nepal. However, it has since been established that even free energy from UKP is to be exported and, therefore, Nepal doesn’t get to use single watt.

Nepal doesn’t need electricity
Another intellectual who was active in the campaign to have Arun III project (201MW) cancelled in 90s, justifies new incarnation of export-oriented Arun III project (900MW), by drawing a parallel between it and Andhi Khola (5.1MW) that was commissioned in June 1991. Electricity from latter was evacuated to Rupandehi district for lack of demand in Syangja district.

It has been clearly established that Nepal right now needs more than 6,000MW and, therefore, there is no justification for exporting now or in about a decade by when demand would have further escalated. He also has demonstrated his lack of knowledge of high finance by presuming that Nepal can start using electricity from export-oriented project as and when she needs; requiring developer breach PPA.

An interesting (rather saddening) facet of Andhi Khola is that even after almost a quarter of century since its commissioning, Syangja doesn’t use electricity generated by it fully, which manifests vision and policy failure on the part of GoN which failed to encourage/facilitate establishment of industries in Syangja including energy intensive ones.

However, demand of Eastern Development Region, where Arun III is sited, was around 350MW last year, while installed capacity of hydropower was 33.7MW and multi-fuel 39MW (total 72.7MW). Obviously the recorded demand is based on suppressed economic growth and this region can use additional 200MW right now as most industries are operating at half the capacity and no power available for new industries. In this manner this region will require close to 1,000MW by the time Arun III is commissioned (without including electrification of transportation, irrigation, etc.). In this backdrop it is futile comparing Andhi Khola with Arun III and condoning the crime committed by GoN in this respect.

Remuneration for advocating in Nepal’s interest
Former finance secretary has also opined that the likes of this scribe receive remuneration for opposing projects. It is obvious that certain sources do pay its agents in Nepal to lobby and write in favor of projects that benefit foreign countries at the cost of Nepal’s economy; some also lobby in favor of bad projects due to the prospect of being able to earn through subcontracts (contract for projects of this scale is beyond capacity of business people in Nepal) for construction/supply. Similarly, those who bend over backwards to justify projects detrimental to Nepal must have been remunerated by the beneficiaries.
But one wonders who would pay those advocating in Nepal’s interest; especially in the backdrop of the fact that even policy makers, politicos and bureaucrats, reportedly, get paid in cash/kind when they advocate/work in the interest of foreign country/business; Mahakali treaty was reportedly ratified by parliament for pecuniary benefit. Actually it will be nice for the likes of us at least to be recognized for advocating/lobbying in Nepal’s interest instead of calling such people “anti-development”; this bunch isn’t selfish to expect to be paid for serving the interest of the motherland.

Hydrocratic intellectuality
Hydrocratic intellectuality is the curse on Nepal, Nepal’s economy and Nepali people. Hydrocrats believe that Nepal will prosper by mitigating load shedding in India, including industrialization there. Due to such intellectuality, Nepal has to import from power-starved India in the name of mitigating load shedding now, contrasted with dream peddled by hydrocrats since more than 2 decades ago that Nepal will become rich by exporting electricity. Nepal is now facing tragic consequence of this dream. Consequence of current spree of signing documents for export will result in Nepal importing the very electricity it exported at around Rs 2.50 from India at more than Rs 10. Wonder when would hydrocrats understand it!

Published in Peoples Review on 4th March 2015
Ratna Sansar Shrestha

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Prudent Harnessing of Water Resources

Nepal is “famous” for being rich in water resources. However, water flows rarely from taps of urbanites, comprising 17% of total population (in 2011) and remaining 83% in rural areas don’t even have taps at household level. Electricity generated from water resources is also not available in adequate quantum; consequence: those with access to electricity (45% of the populace) suffer from severe load shedding and rest languish in load shedding 24/7. While hydrocrats can think of no other use of Nepal’s water resources but for generation of electricity (hydropower), that too for export.

Electricity generation
There isn’t sufficient electricity available even to meet current suppressed demand, as installed capacity in NEA system in fiscal year end was merely 787 MW while peak demand was 1,200 MW. Nepal actually needs about 6,000 MW currently to attain “normal” economic growth and double of that to attain accelerated economic growth; to create employment for those who have emigrated in pursuit of jobs, to increase production to displace import and to increase export (in order to improve both balance of trade and payment deficits), for electrification of transportation (to displace petroleum products) and also to displace LPG from kitchens (at the moment homemakers are suffering from severe shortage of LPG and electrification of kitchen will also break import dependency syndrome).

It is foolish to envisage exporting hydropower without meeting Nepal’s need to saturation level in the hope of receiving 10-12% free electricity. Firstly, it has been revealed that free energy that Nepal is to receive from Upper Karnali is to be exported. Secondly, the concept is bad carbon copy of Indian model – host state receiving some free energy and exporting the rest. Because, using electricity generated in any Indian state in another state results in industrialization of India, creating employment and increasing production with commensurate benefits. But same doesn’t apply in the case of Nepal, as industrialization of India, creating employment and increasing production with commensurate benefits in India doesn’t percolate into Nepal’s economy while benefit from industrialization in any part of India does percolate into Indian economy and all states stand to benefit simply because Nepal’s economy is independent of Indian economy (thank god).

Multi-dimensional uses of water
Hydrocrats haven’t appreciated that energy has many sources, but there is no alternative to water. Water is essential for drinking and sanitation, for irrigation (although there is plenty of saline water in the world – more than double of landmass – it cannot be used for irrigation), animal husbandry, etc. While energy can be generated from sources ranging from unclean/un-renewable like petroleum product, coal, etc. and clean/renewable sources like sun, moon, wind, biomass, animal (including human) excreta, besides water. Essentially water resource can be put to multi-dimensional uses but there is no alternative to water, mainly fresh water.

Restriction on consumptive use
With license granted for generation of electricity, the people in upper riparian areas would not be allowed to extract or divert water for consumptive purposes like drinking and sanitation, irrigation, animal husbandry, etc. and no water would be available for these purposes (including fishery) in dewatered area after its diversion for hydropower generation.

From the futuristic perspective, there will be restriction on production of hydrogen by electrolysis of water (when cost effective technology for storage and transportation of hydrogen becomes available, it will not remain futuristic anymore). There is huge potential for Nepal to benefit from hydrogen production and for Nepal to graduate into hydrogen economy.

It needs to be acknowledged that while conducting EIA or IEE current use of water in upstream and dewatered areas for irrigation is studied but irrigation in un-irrigated land isn’t taken into account. Similarly, no EIA or IEE so far has even visualized hydrogen economy. The problem lies in the present practice of working out installed capacity by looking at head and flow of water (minus extant demand for consumptive uses) and not contemplating future demand for consumptive uses (hydrogen economy isn’t even accounted for in such studies).

Competitive use of river
Similarly, recreation tends to be mutually exclusive with hydropower generation. Best example (actually worst) is Middle Bhote Koshi hydropower project with installed capacity of 102 MW. This project is sited at one of the world’s top 10 whitewater rafting sites (National Geographic has ranked it as 7th) and there is no other comparable site anywhere else in Nepal.

After this particular hydropower project is built, the rafting site will be completely destroyed. Nature has bestowed Nepal with this site and hydrocrats are hell-bent on destroying it. They are unmindful of the fact that if artificial rafting site needs to be built, it would cost a huge amount. An example is Lee Valley White Water Centre (previously known as Broxbourne White Water Canoe Centre) in London, which was constructed to host the canoe slalom events of the 2012 Summer Olympics, at the cost of $50 million equivalent to Rs 5 billion, one third of the cost of this project (Rs 14.5 billion).

Therefore, it will be prudent to build this project at around 70 MW installed capacity without having to sacrifice world’s 7th top whitewater rafting site. Unfortunately, even GoN (particularly Tourism Ministry) in general and tourism industry in particular (with some exception) doesn’t seem to be bothered about destruction of Nepal’s natural heritage. If one were to compute benefits to Nepal’s macro economy from rafting based tourism and cost of building similar rafting site elsewhere in Nepal and compare the figure with hydropower generation (hydropower projects can be built at millions of hydropower sites in over 6,000 rivers), Nepal gains more from saving the rafting site than mindlessly wrecking it by building hydropower project on that particular site, especially because just reducing its installed capacity can save the rafting site.

Complementary uses – irrigation and navigation
Certain use of river have complementarity like reservoir project not only generates electricity but the lean season augmented flow from it can help increase cropping intensity (one crop a year in rainy season versus more than 3 crops including in dry season) by irrigation which is important to achieve food security.

Similarly, with the construction of reservoir project navigation becomes possible in the reservoir as well as in the downstream area of the project. If Nepal builds Upper Karnali project as a reservoir project Nepal can have inland navigation in the reservoir in districts like Achham, Dailekh, Kalikot etc. and in Surkhet, Bardia and Kailali district in downstream of powerhouse. Moreover, Nepal can even have access to open seas through Ganga River in India and the latter too will similarly benefit from lean season augmented flow.

Comprehensive options assessment
From this perspective GoN needs to conduct comprehensive options assessment (COA) with regard to competing and mutually exclusive uses of water for purposes like drinking and sanitation, irrigation, animal husbandry and fishery, hydropower generation, recreation, industrial use, navigation and customary uses – identified by acronym DIFERINO, prior to deciding to allow use of any river for any purposes including hydropower generation.

To conclude, certain uses of river results in more benefits to the country’s macro economy than hydropower generation. Besides, people’s lives depend on river for water, food and energy. Under economics and econometrics no value of life can be assessed/attributed, for which water and food is of vital importance. If there is no life, then there is no meaning of hydropower generation. Therefore, under COA economic linkages (backward, forward, investment and fiscal linkages) needs to be analyzed/assessed and value of water and food for human life determined before deciding to put a site to a specific use.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA
Published in Spotlight Magazine of January 31, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

संचार माध्यम माथि "विदेशी शक्तिको कालो छायाँ"

अाइतबार, माघ ११ गतेको नागरिक दैनिकमा उक्त पत्रिकाका प्रधान सम्पादकले विदेशी शक्तिको कालो छायाँ शिर्षकमा लेख लेखेर बुद्धिजीविको ध्यान आकृष्ट गर्न मात्र सफल भएका छैनन्, अझ आतंकित नै पारेका छन् । तर नेपालमा विदेशी शक्तिको छायाँ नपरेको कहिल्यै छैन । साथै छायाँ भनेको कालै हुन्छ, चर्को उज्यालो भएमा छायाँ गाढा कालो हुन्छ भने अंध्यारोमा छायाँ देखिन्न ।

हेरि ल्याउँदा विदेशी शक्तिको छायाँमा नपरेको कुनै पनि मुलुक छैन । सर्वशक्तिमान संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकाको अर्थतन्त्र समेत उदयिमान चीनको छायाँमा परेको छ भने अरुको कुरै गर्नु बेकार छ । तर यस्तो छायाँले हित गर्छ कि अहित भन्ने कुरा भने सम्बन्धित राज्यको सरकारमा निर्भर गर्छ । लम्पसार पर्ने खालको सरकार भएको अवस्थामा विदेशी शक्तिको छायाँले हित भन्दा धेरै अहित गर्छ र सिक्किमको सन्दर्भ जोड्दा लेन्डुप दोर्जेको लम्पसारवादी नीतिले गर्दा विश्व इतिहाँसमा सिक्किम भन्ने सार्वभौमसत्ता सम्पन्न राज्यको अस्तित्व नैं लोप हुन पुग्यो । तर नेपालमा यति हद सम्मको लम्पसारवादी नीति नभएकोले आजको मिति सम्म नेपाल एउटा सावैभौमसत्ता सम्पन्न स्वतन्त्र राष्ट्रको रुपमा विश्व मानचित्रमा अस्तित्व बांकि छ । भोली के हुन्छ भन्ने कुरा सरकार, सरकार संचालन गर्ने राजनैतिक दलहरुमा निर्भर छ ।

यसो भन्दैमा विदेशी शक्तिको कालो छायाँले अहित गरेकै छैन भन्न मिल्दैन । यो कुराको पुष्ठीको लागि नेपालको जलश्रोत क्षेत्र मात्र हेरे पुग्छ । कोशी, गण्डकी, महाकाली हुंदै हालै सरकारले कर्णाली नदीमा पनि राष्ट्रघात गरिसकेको छ । नेपालको सार्वभौम अधिकार निहित नदीबाट उत्पादित बिजुली नेपाली जनतालाई बंचित पारेर निकासी गर्ने व्यवस्था मात्र नगरेर माथिल्लो कर्णाली आयोजना निर्माण गर्न ५०/६० अर्ब रुपैया लाग्नेमा नगद अनुदान र कर दैदस्तूर छूट मात्रै साढे ७६ अर्ब रुपैया प्रबर्द्धकलाई दिने तारतम्य मिल्ने गरेर अयोजना विकास सम्झौता सम्पन्न भै सकेको छ । अर्को तिर प्रबर्द्धकले आयोजनाको लागत नैं १ सय ४० अर्ब रुपैंया लाग्ने हिसाब देखाएर ८०/९० अर्ब रुपैया गबन गर्ने व्यवस्था गरिसकेको छ । यसरी उक्त आयोजना निर्माण गर्दा नैं प्रबर्द्धकले १ सय ५६ देखि १ सय ६६ अर्ब रुपैंया लाभ लिने भैसकेको छ । यति रकममा उक्त आयोजना जस्ता २ वटा आयोजना निर्माण गर्न पुग्थ्यो ।

समग्रमा के हुने भयाे भने जीएमअारले िबना लगािन मात्र हाेइन उल्टाे झण्डै २ खर्ब रुपैया अायाेजना िनर्माणकाे क्रममा नैं हस्तगत गर्छ र अायाेजनाकाे स्वािमत्व पनि हािसल गरेर २५ वर्ष सम्म नाफा पनि कमाउंछ । कस्ताे राम्राेसंग नेपालकाे स्वार्थ सम्बर्धन गरेकाे !

तर अधिकांश संचार माध्यम माैन बसेर याे अपराधकाे मतियार भएकाे छ र

यो उदाहरणले पनि नेपालको सार्वभौमसत्तामा ह्रास आएको इंगित गर्छ ।

तर यस सन्दर्भमा संचार माध्यमको भूमिका पनि कम महत्वपूर्ण छैन । वर्तमानमा अधिकांश संचार माध्यम पनि विदेशी शक्तिको कालो छायाँमा संचालित छन् । सुनिन्छ, कतिपय संचार माध्यमले विदेशी शक्तिबाट हण्डी नैं प्राप्त गर्छन । िबज्ञापनले पनि हण्डीकाे काम गर्ने स्मरणिय छ ।

नेपाल भ्रष्टाचार धेरै हुने मुलुकमा पर्छ तर कम भ्रष्टाचार हुने मुलुकमा पनि राजनीितकर्मीले भ्रष्टाचार गर्ने गर्छन् । तर संचार माध्यमले अन्तःस्करणकाे काम गर्छ । अमेिरकि राष्ट्रपति िनक्सनकाे संचार माध्यमकाे सजगताले गर्दा पतन भएकाे ज्वलन्त उदाहरण छ ।

मूल कुरा के हो भने संचार माध्यमले देशको अन्तःस्करणको काम गर्नुपर्छ र सरकारको कमिकमजोरी निडर निर्भिक भएर औंल्याउनु पर्छ । तर अपवाद वाहेक अधिकांश संचार माध्यमले, उदाहरणार्थ माथिल्लो कर्णाली आयोजनामा भए गरिएको धाँधली बारे कुरा नैं उल्लेख गर्दैनन्, लेख लेखेर पठाए पनि छाप्दैनन् । बरु यस्तो धाँधलीको खुलासा गर्नेलाई संचार माध्यमले विकास बिरोधीको बिल्ला भिराउन र खलनायक नामकरण गर्न पछि पर्दैनन् । साथै के पनि सुन्नमा आएको छ भने उक्त आयोजनाको प्रबर्द्धकले कतिपय संचार माध्यमलाई प्रत्यक्ष वा परोक्षरुपमा हण्डी बितरण गरेकोले यस सम्बन्धमा मौन धारण गरेको हो ।

र, जब अन्तःस्करणले आफ्नो काम गर्दैन तब त्यो व्यक्ति वा राष्ट्रको भविष्य समाप्त हुन्छ । त्यसकारण संचार माध्यमले पनि आफ्नो कर्तव्यपथबाट बिमुख नहुने हो भने मात्र जत्तिसुकै गाढा कालो छायाँ भए पनि राष्ट्र सार्वभौमसत्ता सम्पन्न तथा स्वतंत्र रहन्छ, नत्र खैरियत छैन । यस्ताेमा संचार माध्यमले राजनीतिकर्मीकाे अालाेचना गरेर पण्डित्याइं छांट्दा पानी मुिन अाेभानाे उक्ति मात्र चरितार्थ हुन्छ ।

Friday, January 23, 2015

“Export” of National Interest in Upper Karnali

In the wake of signing of project development agreement (PDA) for Upper Karnali Project (UKP) with GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Limited (the entity incorporated in Nepal by GMR), PM Sushil Koirala, in an interview given to an English newspaper recently said, “Do not take me as one of the Koiralas who sold our rivers” and went on to assert that “I will not let anti-national act to take place in the country.” From this it becomes clear that he thinks pervious Koirala PMs committed anti-national act and is determined not to commit any anti-national act.

However, the PDA was signed notwithstanding raging protest against it, also while the matter was sub judice in Supreme Court, impelling “Civil Society Alliance for Rational Water Resources Development in Nepal” to send open letters to respective prime ministers of Nepal and India. Therefore, the PDA warrants an assessment with respect to whether any anti-national act was committed.

No mitigation of load shedding
One of the justifications trotted out by those in favor of PDA for UPK was that Nepal’s load shedding will be mitigated with commissioning of UKP as Nepal is slated to receive 12% free energy. While those opposing it, opined that free energy amounts to just meagre 18 MW in dry season and also pointed out that the full potential of the site (Karnali Bend) shouldn’t be killed, which is 4,180 MW reservoir, generating 4 times more electricity (actually helping Nepal achieve energy security). Reservoir project also would have ensured water and food security by generating lean season augmented flow of 500 m3/s.

In this backdrop it is surprising that PDA has a provision for export of free electricity in clause 10(14A) and GoN has to pay “transmission tariff” to GMR for the purpose. Under clause 11.15.4 GMR has been reposed with the responsibility to take care of export for which it would be paid trading commission, too. While there is no provision to use free electricity to mitigate Nepal’s load shedding, nor is there any provision to evacuate free electricity inside Nepal.

In view of this it is clear that even free electricity is to be exported which is tantamount to “exporting” national interest. Because the very foundation of justification for signing PDA was to use free electricity to mitigate Nepal’s load shedding problem.

Hence, anti-national act has taken place in 3 ways: (1) killing full potential of the site, thus depriving people from energy security, (2) depriving people of the region from water and food security (possible by multiple cropping with lean season augmented flow from reservoir) and (3) exporting free electricity against GoN’s assurance. This is a clear case of adding insult to injury in more than one way.

The PDA is detrimental to Nepal’s interest in following ways also.

Subsidy and exemption of tax and duties
There is provision for various financial/fiscal facilities to GMR in clause 9(2). GMR is entitled to cash subsidy of Rs 5 million/MW (totaling Rs 4.5 billion) for having paid VAT to GoN, although under Nepal law such subsidy is to be provided only to projects that connect to national grid to meet Nepal’s internal demand. This amounts to subsidizing Indian consumers. It is strange that Nepal, a poorer neighbor and a recipient of largesse from India, is reciprocating as such.
Further, GMR is entitled to 50% discount on custom duty on import of cement, iron and steel products (estimated amount: Rs 4.5 billion). This facility isn’t afforded to projects built to meet Nepal’s internal demand.

Similarly, GMR is exempt from paying custom duty (except for 1%) and VAT on import of plant, equipment and machinery (estimated amount: Rs 17.5 billion) under Electricity Act. Moreover, there is provision for income tax holiday for 10 years (estimated amount: Rs 40 billion @ Rs 4 billion/year) and 50% discount on income tax for next 5 years (Rs 10 billion @ Rs 2 billion/year) in accordance to Nepal law.

The sum total of subsidy and exemptions is Rs 76.5 billion. Nepal’s macro economy suffers in two ways due to these. One, cost of construction and, therefore, cost of energy generated also gets reduced, but Nepali people don’t get to use such low cost electricity. Two, Nepal’s treasury has to bear such a huge amount. A clear case of double whammy.

Providing such facility to projects for internal consumption is logical. Because, although GoN treasury suffers, populace benefit. In this instance GoN bears the impact of such facilities without general public benefiting (it could have been justified if Nepal was a part of India, which, thankfully, isn’t the case).

Gift of 900 MW project to India
Furthermore, the project site is the most attractive site of world (not just amongst the sites in Nepal) as there is natural dam of 140 meters (no investment required to build a dam of this height) by digging a tunnel of less than 2 km. Therefore; actual project cost is Rs 50/60 billion only according to knowledgeable people. Hence, instead of showering such largesse to GMR (through it to India) GoN could have easily implemented the project from its own sources (using fund involved in subsidy and tax exemptions).

In other words, in the name of attracting foreign investment, GoN has committed to provide subsidy and exemptions amounting to more than actual project cost. By doing so, GoN has essentially gifted UKP free of cost to India without taking any credit for it against Indian practice of publicizing worldwide, with fanfare, every time it provides a few million to Nepal.

Additional electricity generation
If any reservoir project/s is/are built in upstream of this project, its electricity generation will not only increase but its firm energy (which fetches higher tariff) generation also will increase by a magnitude. According to clause 6.1.1(D), GoN is entitled to only half of incremental generation. As Nepal will have to suffer from inundation and displacement by building storage project, she is entitled to not only all incremental generation but she deserves the incremental revenue from enhancement of firm energy as well. Therefore, this provision is another component of PDA, which is against Nepal’s national interest.

Selection of contractor/supplier
There is provision for awarding construction and supply contract in clause 11(34) without transparent and competitive bidding. The likely intention of this provision is to siphon off about Rs 80 to Rs 90 billion out of inflated cost of Rs 140 billion (as mentioned above the actual cost is about Rs 50 to 60 billion only) in collusion with contractors/suppliers. This is how anti-national act isn’t committed!

Revenue from carbon trading
Carbon offset results by exporting electricity from this project, which can be internationally traded. There is provision for sharing of revenue from carbon trading between GoN and GMR in clause 11(37) of PDA. As Nepal exports electricity depriving Nepal’s economy from its use, Nepal deserves the revenue generated by trading carbon offset. This is sacrifice of another source of revenue to GoN.

Force majeure
According to international practice none of the contracting parties are liable in the case of force majeure condition. But GoN is liable to compensate GMR for delays due to force majeure under clause 12.5.8 of PDA. In this way Nepal will have to bear additional financial liability when things are beyond its control. This provision too is obviously detrimental to Nepal.

Change in law
Nepali people are citizens of this country and are subject to all laws under the constitution of Nepal. Similarly, the company incorporated to implement UKP, which is a corporate citizen of Nepal, too is subject Nepal law with respect to all rights and duties, except for political right to cast vote. But under clause 12A of PDA, GMR will not be liable to any additional tax liability imposed by change in law. This amounts to preferential treatment of GMR to the discrimination of citizenry of Nepal (against the very principle of fundamental right to equality) and, hence, anti-national.

GoN to bear project expense
There is provision for constituting a project review panel (PRP) in clause 5 of PDA and under clause 5.5 costs related to PRP is to be borne equally by GoN and GMR. As this is purely a project related expenditure, there is no justification for GoN to share it and thereby enrich GMR; further burden on GoN treasury. Because since GMR wouldn’t share profit with GoN why should GoN share cost?

Facilitation fee to IBN
Under clause 11.28 GMR has to pay IBN $ 15,000 per quarter, totaling $ 60,000 per annum. PDA has made provision to benefit GMR in every way possible by billions of dollars. But charging GMR such a petty amount doesn’t make sense. Is ths how national interest is ensured?

PM’s claim re anti-national act
From the above it is clear that there are many provisions in the PDA, which are detrimental to Nepal. But PM Koirala insists that he has not done anything against Nepal’s interest. Killing potential capacity of the site of 4,000 MW itself constitutes treason and colluding with GMR to further bilk Nepal’s treasury in various pretence is absolute betrayal of our motherland.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha

Published in People's Review Weekly on 22nd January 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

निशुल्क बिजुलीमैं पनि राष्ट्रघात

निकासीमूलक माथिल्लो कर्णाली आयोजनाका प्रबर्द्धक जीएआरलाई निर्माण गर्न दिनुपर्छ भन्ने देखि वर्तमान अवधारणामा हुन्न भन्ने बिबाद हुंदाहुंदै नेपाल सरकारले प्रबर्द्धकसंग आयोजना विकास सम्झौता (पीडीए) सम्पन्न गरेर भारतलाई खुशी पार्ने कोशिश गरेको देखिन्छ । सर्बोच्च अदालतमा पनि यस सम्बन्धमा एक भन्दा बढी रिट निवेदनहरु बिचाराधीन छन् भने नागरिक समाजका केहि अगुवाहरुले नेपाल तथा भारतका प्रधानमन्त्रीहरुलाई यो पीडीएले गर्दा नेपाल भारत दुबैलाई घाटा पर्ने सम्बन्धमा खुल्लापत्र लेखेका छन् ।

तर आयोजनाको पीडीएमा हस्ताक्षर हुंदा व्यक्तिगतरुपमा उपस्थित रहेका प्रधानमन्त्री कोइरालाले बिगतमा मातृका, विश्वेश्वर तथा गिरिजा लगायतका तीन कोइराला प्रधानमन्त्रीहरुले नदी बेचे झैं आफूले राष्ट्रघात नगरेको दाबी गरेकाछन् । यस परिप्रेक्ष्यमा पीडीएका व्यवस्थाहरुको बिबेचना गर्न वान्छनिय हुन्छ ।

लोडसेडिंग निराकरण नहुने
वर्तमान अवधारणालाई गलत भन्नेहरु यो आयोजनास्थल (कर्णाली घुम्ती)मा जडित क्षमता ९ सय मेगावाट होइन ४ हजार १ सय ८० मेगावाटको पूर्ण क्षमतामा निर्माण गरेर ४ गुणा बढी बिजुली मात्र उत्पादन नगरेर जलाशयमा वर्षातको पानी संचित गरेर सुक्खायाममा खानेपानी, सिंचाई आदिको लागि उपलब्ध गरिनुपर्छ भन्ने धारणा राख्छन् र पूर्ण क्षमतामा निर्माण गरिंदा नेपाल सरकारलाई रोयल्टी समेत ४ गुणा बढी प्राप्त हुने कुरा आंैल्याउंछन् ।

कुनै पनि हालतमा बनाइनु पर्छ भन्नेहरु १२ प्रतिशत भएपनि निशुल्क प्राप्त हुने बिजुलीले नेपालको बिद्यमान लोडसेडिंगको समस्या केहि हद सम्म भएपनि निराकरण हुने तर्क गर्छन्, बिमति राख्नेहरुलाई विकास बिरोधी बिल्ला भिराएर । यस सम्बन्धमा वर्षातमा १ सय ८ मेगावाट निशुल्क प्राप्त भएपनि सुक्खायाममा १८ मेगावाट मात्र प्राप्त हुने हुनाले लोडसेडिंगको समस्या तात्विकरुपमा निराकरण नहुने कुरा पनि औंल्याइएका थिए ।

तर प्रबर्द्धकसंग भएको आयोजना विकास सम्झौता (पीडीए)को दफा १०(१४क) मा नेपाल सरकारलाई प्राप्त हुने निशुल्क बिजुली भारत निकासी गर्ने व्यवस्था छ, त्यो पनि प्रशारण शुल्क तिरेर । साथै दफा ११.१५.४ मा निकासी गर्ने जिम्मा प्रबर्द्धकलाई नैं दिने र सो बापत दलाली शुल्क तिर्ने व्यवस्था छ । त्यस्तै भारत निकासी गर्नको लागि प्रशारण संजालको व्यवस्था छ । अर्को तर्फ यसरी निशुल्क प्राप्त हुने बिजुली नेपालको कुन आन्तरिक बजारमा के कसरी उपलब्ध गरिनेछ भन्ने सम्बन्धमा पूर्णतः मौन छ र नेपालमा आपूर्तिको लागि प्रशारण संजालको व्यवस्था पनि छैन ।

त्यसकारण निशुल्क बिजुली निकासी नैं गरिने स्पष्टिन्छ र यो आयोजना निर्माण भएर नेपालको लोडसेडिंग निराकरणमा हुंदैन । यसले गर्दा घाउमा नुनचूक दलेको चरितार्थ हुनेछ र तेहोरो रुपमा राष्ट्रघात भएकोछः (१) ४ हजार मेगावाट भन्दा बढी बिद्युत उत्पादन क्षमता भएको आयोजनास्थललाई ९ सयमा सीमित गरेकोले, (२) सुक्खायाममा थप पानी उत्पादन गरेर उर्जा सुरक्षाको अलावा जल सुरक्षा तथा खाद्य सुरक्षा पनि हासिल गर्ने सम्भावनाबाट त्यस भेगका जनतालाई बंचित गरेकोले र (३) थोरै भए पनि निशुल्क प्राप्त हुने बिजुली पनि भारत निकासी गर्ने भएकोले ।

आश्चर्यजनक के छ भने पीडीएमा माथि उल्लिखित तेहोरो बाहेक अन्य तरिकाबाट पनि राष्ट्रलाई घाटा पार्ने काम भएको रहेछ, जुन निम्न प्रकरणहरुमा विश्लेषण गरिएकोछ ।

कर दैदस्तूर छूट तथा अनुदान
पीडीएको दफा ९(२) मा बिभिन्न प्रकारका वित्तिय सहुलियतहरुको व्यवस्था गरिएकोछ । जस मध्ये पहिलो हो राज्यलाई सिमन्टी जस्ता सामग्रीमा मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर तिरे बापत प्रति मेगावाट ५० लाख रुपैया को दरले जम्मा साढे ४ अर्ब रुपैंया अनुदान । यस्तो अनुदान राष्ट्रिय प्रशारण संजालमा जोडेर नेपालको आन्तरिक मांग पूर्ति गर्ने प्रबर्द्धकलाई मात्र दिने कानूनी व्यवस्था छ । त्यस्तै सिमन्टी, छड आयात गर्दा लाग्ने भंसार महशूल पनि ५० प्रतिशत छूट दिइनेछ, जुन सुविधा नेपालको आन्तरिक खपतको लागि निर्माण हुने आयोजनाहरुलाई छैन । यो सुविधाले राज्य माथि अन्दाजि साढे ४ अर्ब रुपंैया थप भार पर्छ ।

यस अतिरिक्त यो आयोजनाले बिद्यमान कानूनमा व्यवस्था भए अनुरुप मेशिनरी उपकरण आदि पैठारी गर्दा पनि भंसार महशूल र मूल्य अभिबृद्धि कर छूट पाउनेछ, जुन अंदाजि साढे १७ अर्ब रुपैंया हुनेछ । त्यस्तै पहिलो १५ वर्ष शतप्रतिशत आयकर छूट पाउने हुनाले वार्षिक ४ अर्ब रुपैंयाको दरले आयकर छूट पाएर १० वर्षमा ४० अर्ब रुपैया र त्यस पछिको ५ वर्ष ५० प्रतिशत आयकर छूट पाएर वार्षिक २ अर्ब रुपैंयाको दरले १० अर्ब रुपैंया राज्यको कोषले गुमाउनेछ ।

यसरी नगद अनुदान तथा कर दैदस्तूर छूट समेत गरेर आयोजना प्रबर्द्धकले साढे ७६ अर्ब रुपैंयाले लाभान्वित हुनेछ । यस्तो सुविधाको कारणले राष्ट्रलाई दोहोरो घाटा हुन्छः अनुदान तथा सहुलियतको कारणले आयोजनाको उत्पादन लागत कम भएर उत्पादित बिजुली सस्तो पर्छ तर सस्तो बिजुलीबाट नेपाली उपभोक्ता बंचित हुनाको अलावा राज्यको कोषमा अनावश्यक भार पर्नाले ।

यो आयोजना विश्वकैं (नेपालमा सम्भाब्य लाखौं आयोजनाहरुमध्ये मात्र होइन) आकर्षक आयोजना भएकोले यसको निर्माण लागत ५० देखि ६० अर्ब रुपैंया मात्र लाग्छ र प्रबर्द्धकलाई राज्यले दिएको नगद अनुदान तथा कर दैदस्तूर छूटबाट मात्रै यो आयोजना सजिलै निर्माण गर्न सकिन्छ ।

अर्थात बिदेशी लगानि आकृष्ट गर्ने नाममा यो आयोजना निर्माण गर्न पुग्ने भन्दा बढी नगद अनुदान तथा कर दैदस्तूर छूट दिएर पनि राष्ट्रलाई घाटा पु¥याउने काम भएकोछ, राष्ट्रघात भएकोछ । यसबाट राज्यले नैं आवश्यक रकम परिचालन गरेर यो आयोजना निर्माण गर्न सक्ने देखिन्छ र यसको बिजुली नेपालको द्रुत आर्थिक विकासको लागि उपयोग गर्न सक्नेमा बिदेशी प्रबर्द्धकलाई पृष्ठपोषण गरेर तथा नेपालकै लागि अत्यावश्यक बिजुली भारत निकासी गर्ने व्यवस्था गरेर राष्ट्रघात गरिएकोछ ।

थप बिजुली उत्पादन
यो आयोजनाको माथिल्लो तटीय इलाकामा जलाशययुक्त आयोजना निर्माण भएमा यो आयोजनाबाट थप बिजुली उत्पादन मात्र हुन सक्ने होइन सुनिश्चित बिजुली (फर्म इनर्जि) उत्पादन पनि धेरै गुणाले बढ्नेछ । पीडीएको दफा ६.१.१(घ)मा यस्तो थप उत्पादित बिजुलीमा प्रबर्द्धकको पनि आधा हक लाग्ने व्यवस्था गरिएको छ, जुन राष्ट्रघाती काम हो । प्रबर्द्धकको टर्बाइन बढी समय चल्ने भएर बढी खिइने हद सम्मको रकम मात्र दिइनुपथ्र्यो । नेपालले डुबान र बिस्थापन भोगेर वर्षातको पानी संचित गरेर सुक्खायाममा थप पानी उपलब्ध गरिएर उत्पादन हुने बिजुली माथिको सम्पूर्ण हक नेपाल सरकारको हुनुपर्ने मात्र नभएर बढी मूल्यमा बिक्री हुने सुनिश्चित बिजुली थप उत्पादन भएको कारणले अभिबृद्धि हुने राजश्वमा पनि नेपालको हक लाग्छ । यस बिपरित थप उत्पादित बिजुलीको आधामा मात्र नेपालको हक लाग्ने व्यवस्था राष्ट्रलाई थप घाटा पार्ने षडयन्त्र हो ।

ठेकेदारको नियुक्ति
पीडीएको दफा ११(३४) मा प्रतिश्पर्धा तथा पारदर्शिता बिना ठेकदार नियुक्ति गर्ने व्यवस्था छ । यसको लागत ५० देखि ६० अर्ब रुपैंया मात्र लाग्नुपर्नेमा १ सय ४० अर्ब रुपैया लाग्ने घोषणा गरिसकेको परिप्रेक्ष्यमा बिना प्रतिश्पर्धा र पारदर्शिता ठेकेदार नियुक्ति गरेर, ठेकेदारसंग मिलेर ८० देखि ९० अर्ब रुपैंया बांडचुंडी लिने तयारी गरेको देखिन्छ ।

कार्बन ब्यापारबाट आय
यो आयोजनाबाट उत्पादित बिजुली भारत निकासी गर्दा कार्बनडाइअक्साइड वायू उत्सर्जन बिस्थापित हुन्छ, जुन बिक्री गरेर आय आर्जन गर्न सकिन्छ । पीडीएको दफा ११(३७) मा यसरी आर्जन भएको आय नेपाल सरकार र प्रबर्द्धकले बांड्ने व्यवस्था छ । नेपालले आफ्नो मुलुकमा उपयोग नगरेर भारत निकासी गर्दा हुने यस्तो आयमा नेपालको पूर्ण हक लाग्नेमा प्रबर्द्धकसंग बाँड्ने व्यवस्था राखेर पनि राष्ट्रघात गरिएकोछ ।

काबू बाहिरको परिस्थिति
अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय परिपाटी अनुसार काबू बाहिरको परिस्थितिको कारणले कुनै पनि पक्षले नोक्सानि व्यहोरेमा अर्को पक्ष जिम्मेवार नहुने प्रचलन छ । तर यो आयोजनाको पीडीएको दफा १२.५.८ मा काबू बाहिरको कारणले प्रबर्द्धकले नोक्सानि व्यहोरेको खण्डमा नेपाल सरकारले प्रबर्द्धकलाई क्षतिपूर्ति दिनुपर्ने व्यवस्था गरेर पनि राष्ट्रलाई घाटा पार्ने प्रपञ्च मिलाएकोछ ।

कानून परिवर्तनबाट उन्मुक्ति
नेपाली जनता नेपालको नागरिक भए झैं प्रबर्द्धक संस्था नेपाल राज्यमा दर्ता भएपछि नेपालको संस्थागत नागरिक बन्दछ, जसलाई मतदान गर्ने राजनैतिक अधिकार बाहेक अन्य सम्पूर्ण अधिकार तथा कर्तव्य हुन्छ । संबैधानिक व्यवस्था अनुसार कानून परिवर्तन भएर थप कर दैदस्तूर लाग्ने भएमा नेपाली नागरिकले उन्मुक्ति पाउंदैन । तर पीडीएको दफा १२क मा कानूनमा परिवर्तन भएर कर दैदस्तूरको दायित्व बृद्धि भएपनि प्रबर्द्धकले यस्तो थप दायित्वबाट उन्मुक्ति पाउने व्यवस्था गरेको पनि राष्ट्र हितमा छैन र सामान्य नागरिक प्रति बिभेद हुने गरेर यो व्यवस्थाले संबिधानले प्रत्याभूत गरको समानताको हकबाट सामान्य नागरिकलाई बंचित गरिएकोछ ।

आयोजनाको खर्च राज्यले बेहोर्ने
पीडीएमा आयोजना पुनरावलोकन कार्यदलको व्यवस्था छ र यस्तो कार्यदलको खर्च आयोजनाकै खर्च मानिने अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय मान्यता छ । तर दफा ५(५) मा यस्तो कार्यदलको खर्च नेपाल सरकारले पनि आधा ब्यहोर्ने ब्यवस्था छ, जुन युक्तिसंगत छैन । आयोजना प्रबर्द्धकले नाफा भने एकलौटी गर्ने तर आयोजना सम्बन्धी खर्च भने नेपाल सरकारले आधा ब्यहोर्नाले पनि राज्यलाई थप घाटा पर्नेछ ।

लगानि बोर्डलाई सहजिकरण शुल्क
पीडीएको दफा ११(२८) मा लगानि बोर्डलाई वार्षिक ६० लाख रुपैंया सहजिकरण शुल्क प्रबर्द्धकले भुक्तानि गर्ने व्यवस्था गरिएकोछ । नेपाल सरकाले प्रत्यक्ष तथा परोक्षरुपमा प्रबद्र्धकलाई झण्डैे १ खर्ब रुपैया भन्दा बढीले लाभान्वित गर्ने अनि लगानि बोर्डले यति थोरै रकममा दांत गाड्नु भनेको सबै छाडी टपरी मुनि हात भन्ने उक्ति चरितार्थ हुन्छ ।

राष्ट्रघात नगरेको प्रधानमन्त्रीको दाबी
माथि उल्लेख गरिए झैं धेरै किसिमले राष्ट्रलाई घाटा हुने काम गरेर पनि राष्ट्रघात गरेको छैन भनेर पानीमुनि ओभानो छुं भन्दैमा जनताले पत्याउने अवस्था छैन । ४ हजार मेगावाट भन्दा बढी क्षमताको आयोजनास्थललाई ९ सय मेगावाटमा सीमित गरेर मात्र राष्ट्रघात गरेको नभएर पीडीए गर्दा पनि नेपाली जनता, नेपालको अर्थतन्त्र तथा नेपालको प्राकृतिक श्रोतको शोषण धेरै तरिकाले गरेको प्रष्टिन्छ ।
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
२०७१ माघ ८ गते अन्नपूर्णा पोष्टमा प्रकाशित