Load-shedding has become destiny for Nepalis in the past few years. While only 40 percent of the population is getting electricity on the one hand, even that 40 percent is not getting regular supply of electricity. Though the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) claims that there is 12 hours of load-shedding daily, it is actually much higher than that. Every household gets electricity for only 3-4 hours in a day during the working hours from nine in the morning to six in the evening. This has not just affected factories and businesses but also badly hit government’s service delivery. This is not positive from the perspective of economic productivity. The fact that load-shedding rises during the winter as not even half of the total demand is generated in the country is no longer new for the people. NEA has been conceding that supply of electricity is not 500 MW even adding the electricity imported from India while the current demand is 1100 MW.
Management of electricity, frankly speaking, has already gone out of the hands of NEA. We always put the blame on lack of generation for the rising load-shedding. It, no doubt, is the main reason but load-shedding has increased to frightening level also due to the weak managerial capacity of NEA. NEA had monopoly over generation, transmission and sale/distribution of electricity before the private sector entered the sector after the Electricity Act was brought in 1992. NEA is still involved in all three activities. The projects developed by NEA itself are not being completed in time which has not just raised the cost of those projects but has also contributed to raising energy crisis to such frightening level. NEA has also been found wanting in timely repair and maintenance of even those projects that have been completed in past. Hydropower experts state that load-shedding can be reduced to up to 25 percent if the existing projects are repaired and maintained, operated as per their installed capacity on the basis of the water available in the rivers, old cables and conductors used in transmission lines are replaced and non-technical leakage of the current leakage of 26 percent is controlled.
The government has changed at a time of high load-shedding and the newly appointed Energy Minister Radha Gyawali has claimed that load-shedding will be minimized within the next five years. The newly appointed energy minister after change of government invariably makes tall claims about reducing load-shedding and increasing electricity generation, and the general public has even stopped to believe those claims. We have this bitter reality that none of the sloganeering energy ministers after 2006 have failed to achieve anything. The Pushpa Kamal Dahal government in 2008 had first brought a plan to address the national energy crisis when daily load-shedding had crossed 16 hours after the Koshi flood swept away transmission line bringing electricity from India. Energy minister in the next government Bishnu Poudel then talked about generating 10000 MW within 10 years while his successor Prakash Sharan Mahat sold dreams of 25000 MW in 20 years. Bharat Mohan Adhikari, who also took charge of the Energy Ministry, then talked about 2500 MW in five years. Separate working plans were then formulated in 2011 and 2012 for minimizing load-shedding. The present Energy Minister Gyawali has talked about reducing load-shedding on the basis of projects to be completed in the next five years without referring to any working plan. Another 1756 MW of electricity will be added to the national grid in the next seven years through Upper Tamakoshi, four projects under Chilime, Sanima, Mistrikhola, Super Six projects, Upper Mrasyangdi, Kabeli and others even if the current minister were to not take any solid initiative. It will, therefore, be better for the ministry leadership to responsibly try to do things that can be done immediately instead of giving such deceitful statements. It is necessary to first initiate programs to reduce leakage by improving the managerial capacity of NEA for that and we can make achievements that can be felt immediately by focusing on repair and maintenance of the existing projects in the second stage.
Source : Karobar Daily