It’s in Nepal’s best interest to safeguard and utilise its water resources properly
OCT 27 –
Nepal embarked in the journey of hydropower from Pharping Hydropower project, which generated 500 KW of energy, during the tenure of Prime Minister Chandra Shamser Rana. The hydropower project was established almost 29 years after the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operation in Wisconsin, USA. But to the dismay of the Nepali people, the pioneers of that time couldn’t contemplate a future when electricity would be the life-blood of mankind.
And this lack of vision is one of the reasons why despite having the potential of more than 80,000 megawatts, we are unable to produce even a thousand. But finally, the government seems to have woken up to reality now.
In fact, nowadays, the whole of the country seems to be talking about economic transformation through a variety of means; and hydroelectricity is one of the most talked-about subjects. But surprisingly the question has shifted from the generation and distribution of electricity to its trade. Even before we’ve generated enough for ourselves, we’re already debating on who will buy our surplus energy? And the most obvious answer is India.
The first beneficiaries of this hydropower renaissance, which I hope is going to happen in Nepal pretty soon, should be the Nepali people. It’s only after we meet our own demands that we should think about exporting surplus power to the other countries.
Nepal has a ‘special relationship’ with India; we share a common culture, tradition and history. And while the energy deficit seems to be nagging our country pretty bad, India is no exception. So, a collaborative effort, no doubt, can create a win-win situation for both the neighbours.
But trading electricity also has a lot of complexities that need to be addressed. And our past has taught us that when it comes to the sharing of resources with India, especially water, the cooperation is fragile and often fraught with problems. Whether it be the Koshi project, the treaty on the Integrated Development of the Mahakali River, or the infamous Gandak Agreement, every proposal put forward by the Indian side has been met with suspicion in Nepal, along with innumerable conspiracy theories.
And along with resolving the complexities, we also need to make sure that we get the best deal out of this natural resource. And for that, firstly, we need a clear outline of our plans along with well-crafted vision.
Secondly, we should keep in mind that in today’s market economy, where electricity has become a commodity, India should be our partner in trade, and not a big brother. Being a neighbour, India has a special place in our heart, but that shouldn’t mean that we forsake our planning and vision to appease our neighbour or follow its beck and call every time. It’s in Nepal’s interest to safeguard and properly utilise its rivers, and if a prosperous South Asia is India’s prime concern, then, a more liberal and open attitude is what it should vie for.
Nevertheless, it is never too late for this generation to take the lead and bring about an end of the ‘dark days’. The country is eager to see a silver lining beyond this long political maelstrom.
Wasti is a student at Kathmandu Engineering College
Source : The Kathmandu Post