We are looking for aid from donors for infrastructure development and power production and tourism promotion. Yet, the West Seti 750 MW hydro power project may be allowed to go to scrap. Are we undervaluing the projects we already have and just stretching out our arms for more?
We are saying we will reduce poverty by developing these goals as they will provide more jobs. I wonder if this is the answer to poverty alleviation in our country. All I have are questions: how many jobs will a hydropower project supply and for how long? Is developing hydropower in a region going to create environmental problems? Does being an agro-based economy mean we will draw away our manpower from our fields if we create these types of opportunistic jobs for low-skilled workers? Does the answer to poverty alleviation lie in other directions? How will the power in a region supplied by a hydropower like the West Seti hydro project be utilised in the alleviation of poverty? Can hydropower be utilised effectively in agriculture for irrigation and the like in a mountainous country?
If the local population has electricity that can be used for culinary purposes, the denudation of mountain forests will slow down to an appreciable degree and so will erosion of valuable soil. Electricity can also be used to power water supplies and small mills or even factories can run on this supply. If part of the revenue generated is put back into the local community, a lot of socio-economic development should take place. Reliance on gas in urban areas may be reduced. Students will find it a lot easier to study with electricity than other means.
Displacement of populations from flooding, effect on fauna, flora are other effects of developing hydropower in a country. It would seem the negative consequences of developing hydropower are outweighed by positive socio economic gains. In the nineteen hundreds, Lenin saw electrifying the country as a way for Russia to compete with the rest of the world. The bigger powers are all self-sufficient in hydropower or alternative energy sources.
It seems electrifying the country is an effective means of advancing development even in the twenty-first century. Should we give special attention to the development of hydropower in this country as a means of alleviating poverty? Why not first plan for the development of hydropower in specific locations of the country and then only seek for aid from others? As hydropower is renewable and clean, unlike nuclear power, our country should seek this path for energy independence and economic development.
Source : The Himalayan Times