A hydropower engineer’s mission

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    subarna das shrestha ippanThe Nepal Government’s liberal policy in hydropower had already lured Subarna Das Shrestha when he was studying hydropower engineering in Moscow during the late 1990s.

    A Ph D with the thesis on the topic of ‘Hydro-Technical and Land Reclamation Construction,’ he returned home with a dream of tapping Nepal’s hugely underutilized hydropower potentials to take advantage of hydropower laws introduced by the government during early 1990s. The liberal laws that came after the restoration of democracy in the country paved the way for the private sector to invest in hydropower explorations.

    “The vast potentiality of hydropower in Nepal inspired me to drop the idea of working abroad and I came back Nepal with high hopes of harnessing the country’s water resources,” says Shrestha.

    It was then when Shrestha established Sanima Hydropower Company, a hydropower developer firm.

    The Sunkoshhi Hydropower Project promoted by his firm is generating 2.5MW, and Ilam-based Mai Khola Hydropower Project with the installed capacity of 22MW is in the final stage of the construction. Another project, the Mai Cascade, with the capacity of generating 7MW, began recently.

    Shrestha, who is also President of the Independent Power Producers’ Association, Nepal (IPPAN), says that Nepal can achieve a double-digit economic growth by harnessing its hydropower potentials.

    “Though everybody accepts the fact that hydropower is the foundation of the Nepali economy, the ideas aren’t translated into action,” said Shrestha. “In the generation of hydropower, we live in one of the richest country in the world in hydropower terms but we’ve been living in prolonged power deficits.”

    Worse, the ongoing projects are turning into sick projects, owing to the rising costs of production and many other reasons.

    Against this bleak backdrop, IPPAN recently organized a power summit to open up dialogues among policymakers as well as domestic and foreign developers.
    “The summit has been successful in sensitizing the issues of hydropower development in Nepal,” says Shrestha.

    However, the existing laws and inconsistent policies have become roadblocks to the rapid growth of the hydropower sector in the country.
    Shrestha acknowledges that Nepal is failing to harness its water resources in time.

    So “We, the private sector people, have to play a major role in bailing the country out of its chronic load-shedding with the support from government,” he adds.

    Source : Republica