That six major political parties have pledged to develop hydropower and not to cause any obstructions to the various hydropower projects is welcome and long overdue. Politics in Nepal appears to be about partisan interests at the cost of infrastructure development that the country desperately needs. We see mere squabbling among the major political parties, with the agenda for development of the country being always on the back burner. This joint written commitment to the smooth development of hydropower has made a small beginning towards the much larger task of developing a consensus on a minimum econmic agenda, irrespective of which party or parties may be in power or out of it. This is sensible because the present unrest in the transition period is taking the country backwards. The lack of electricity in a country which boasts being the second richest in water resources in the world is indeed an irony. Politics should not hamper economic activities as is being done now. For long hydropower has been much politicized but that should be discouraged so that this sector could make headway. Even worse, hydropower has also been used as bargaining chips to serve vested interests, including politicians and businessmen.
This pledge to develop hydropower will no doubt bring in dividends and there should be no backing out now that an agreement to this effect has been reached. Nepal is richly endowed with natural resources and their proper development and utilization could work wonders for the country’s move forward on the path of economic development. Similar pledges need to be made in other sectors too, such as the banning of bandhs which is costing the country dear. Tourism also holds much potential for the country. Although in the past the political parties reached agreement not to organize bandhs any more but only to break it when it suited them, especially when they went into opposition. Each day of a bandh costs the country billions of rupees. Sincere effforts to build such consensus on fundamental issues of interest to the people and the country should continue and be expanded to other areas like education and health and as also to basic questions of foreign policy and internal security.
In any case, there is a need to develop an investment-friendly environment in the country. The consequences of a lack of such an environment can be gleaned from the fact that hundreds of youths continue to migrate to foreign countries in search of employment every day. Although the country stands to gain by this in the short term, but in the long run it stands to lose because the brain and brawn of the Nepalese youths are being used to build other countries. For how long can the country rely on remittances? Thus, the political parties should play a more constructive role. Simply quarrelling amongst themselves is not going to be of any help to the nation. But the conspicuous absence of the CPN-Maoist from the joint commitment may make the agreement less effective, as its workers have obstructed in the recent past the work at certain hydropower projects.
Source : The Himalayan Times / EEditorial