Energy crisis work plan struggles to take off

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    It has nearly been two months since the government unveiled a work plan to end load- shedding substantially within a year. But the progress in implementation of the work plan is not satisfactory.

    Ministry of Energy on Thursday briefed members of the parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee about the progress in implementation of the plan. Report presented to the committee by the ministry shows needful preparations have been made but no visible result can be seen, except in one project.

    The government managed to resume work on 75-kilometer Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line, which had been halted for the past four years, due to locals’ protest by mobilizing security forces. Except this project, all other projects are in preparatory phase.

    If the project is completed within few weeks as per the work schedule, electricity imported from India via Dhalkebar-Mujaffarpur transmission line can be connected to Kathmandu.

    “It is a key project as it will enable us to take electricity imported from India to Kathmandu Valley,” Dinesh Ghimire, joint secretary of Ministry of Energy, told meeting on Thursday.

    Discussion on energy ministry’s progress report will continue on Sunday as well.

    The energy ministry plans to import 580 MW of electricity from India by the end of this fiscal year. It has been importing 315 MW from the southern neighbor at present.

    The government had announced the energy crisis related work plan on February 19 with objective to generate 10,000 megawatt of electricity in a decade and fully end the energy burden within the next two years. This is the fourth such plan unveiled by the government. Three other plans unveiled over past seven years are gathering dust in government shelves.

    Different layers of implementing agencies and statutory bodies, led by Chief District Officer at the district level and Prime Minister at the center, have been formed to implement the work plan, the progress report states. Similarly, the ministry has termed directions issued to Nepal Electricity Authority, Department of Electricity Development, and Alternative Energy Promotion Center, as ‘progress’ in relation to implementation of the plan.

    Talking to Republica, Ghimire said effective groundwork is important to translate plans. “It’s too early to expect visible results,” he added.

    The work plan states that penalty for hydropower projects generating lower than 80 percent of energy stipulated in the contract will be waived off within two months to encourage hydropower developers. Similarly, it envisages preparing draft of the contract to be signed with sugar mills to purchase surplus electricity generated by them within two months. However, the progress report submitted to the parliamentary committee is silent on these issues.

    Ghimire claimed that contract paper is in the final stage of preparation.

    The work plan has given a two-month deadline to the energy ministry to extend date of commercial generation for hydropower projects affected by the earthquake by one year. But it has not happened.

    Similarly, there was a plan to immediately issue force majeure notices to hydropower plants damaged by the earthquake. But nothing has been done in this direction. The work plan states that the government will ensure market for energy generated by hydropower plants developed by foreign investors for domestic consumption within a month by signing project development agreement. It is also limited to paper.

    “Another major achievement will be made next week by mobilizing security forces to complete Bhaktapur-Chapagaun-Matatirtha transmission line,” Ghimire said.

    The project was stalled for more than decade after the locals launched protest against land acquisition.

    Source : Republica