Govt proposes two weekly holidays: Bid to contain power crisis

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    Kathmandu, September 10 : In its bid to reduce energy consumption, the government has proposed two weekly holidays in government and private offices and educational institutions.

    The move is aimed at cutting load-shedding hours and diesel consumption during the upcoming winter season.

    The Ministry of Energy (MoE) will recommend this proposed provision in its Load Shedding Reduction Action Plan — which is currently under preparation. It will also request industries, banks and financial institutions (BFIs), schools and colleges and the corporate sector to maintain a five-day working week. An additional official holiday is expected to help save 400,000 units of energy a day.

    “We are planning to come up with this recommendation with through discussions with the private and public sectors,” said Anup Kumar Upadhya, spokesperson for MoE. “Most of the corporate houses and BFIs have so far been positive about the idea.”

    The ministry has also included a stern provision against those (including individuals and industries) involving in electricity theft. It plans to cut supplies to areas where electricity theft is rampant and supply the power to other areas. MoE has also proposed constructing 15-km Duhabi-Kataiya transmission line to import additional 100MW electricity from India.

    A meeting of the Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) board last week decided to build the 132KV transmission line. An NEA source said the transmission line would cost around Rs 350 million.

    Concerned about growing outages, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had instructed the Energy Ministry and NEA to come up with feasible measures to limit load-shedding to 12 hours a day during the winter. The Prime Minister has already asked his Indian counterpart Man Mohan Singh to supply 200MW electricity to Nepal during their recent meeting in Iran.

    Other measures the ministry is proposing include recommending for the early construction of the 400KV Dhalkebar-Mujjaffapur inter-boarder transmission line, handing over the multi-fuel plants (39MW in Duhabi, Morang, and 14.4MW in Hetauda) to the private sector, and purchasing energy from captive plants of local industrial units, among others.

    Another MoE official said the two weekly holidays programme will initially be launched at the beginning of winter, which could also be extended into the rainy season. “For this purpose, we have recommended that the daily office hours be extended to 9:00 am to 5:00 pm,” he said.

    Currently, government offices function 40 hours a week — 10:00 am to 5:00 pm from Sunday to Thursday and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Friday. “Even with the five-day working week, the offices will remain open for 40 hours a week if daily working hours are maintained from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm,” the official said.

    The official said the two weekly holidays will help save energy generated by the storage-type Kulekhani project. Overall, the additional holidays will help reduce energy consumption by 10 MW. “Closure of industrial units, BFIs, corporate houses and education institutions will help to save 800,000 liters of diesel a week, which will give some relief to debt-stricken Nepal Oil Corporation as well,” he said.

    Source : EKantipur