Although Nepal boasts of being the second richest country in water resources, hydro-power generation is below par leading to power outages not only during the dry season but even when the monsoon is active. Despite the immense capacity, Nepal has been able to generate only 800 MW of electricity. The electricity demand of Nepalis is expected to cross 2,000 MW by the year 2020. If things move the way they are doing in the hydro-power sector, it is unlikely that this demand will be met. The inefficiency or rather apathy of the authorities in building more hydro-power plants is at the root of the present plight. It is high time that something concrete was done about boosting the generation of electricity. The construction works of the ongoing hydel plants are being delayed due to obstructions posed by various stakeholders including the labourers and the local people for varied reasons. As a result, such delays are escalating the costs, besides the inevitability of the country experiencing at least some more years of load-shedding.
Should the hydro-power be exploited better, the country would benefit, for it is the best way to the prosperity of the nation. There is a big scope for investment. The investments made by the domestic sector on hydro power are indeed laudable. Also, that the NRNs are keen on making investments is another plus point. At the same time, Nepal could do well from foreign investments and foreigners are more than willing to do so but the environment of the nation is such that it is not conducive to these ventures. Many foreign contractors and investors have folded up and called it quits, for various reasons, largely due to the volatile political situation.
The Power Summit 2013, to be hosted by the Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal (IPPAN) in Kathmandu, raises hope that the tempo of the various hydro-power projects will pick up and new ones will be launched. That would mean that Nepal will benefit immensely from the harnessing of its water resources. Hydropower is not only cheap. it is non-polluting and is renewable. Besides, Nepal could use the electricity it would generate for agricultural and industrial purposes, as well as for household and other purposes like entertainment. It could also encourage electricity-run vehicles and trains. This would be a blessing for the people who have to cope with harmful gas emissions from vehicles. The summit should possibly help find out the hindrances that have discouraged development of the hydro-power sector. Impediments to the development of hydro-power should be indentified and dealt with in earnest. As such, let the power summit not be just another interaction programme with nothing concrete coming out of it. It will be fruitful only if it comes up with an action plan that can be the guidelines for the development of the power sector in Nepal. The government too should play its part well, which includes providing the cooperation to the private power developers needed for the development of this sector.
No one has any love for general strikes or chakkajams, except for those who call them. And the umpteen number of problems, and suffering that the general people have to endure during such bandhs make the whole idea abhorrent. Yet, particularly the political parties and their sister organisation just do not hesitate to call a bandh even on the pretext of trivial issues. The Nepali people seem to be quite tolerant that the bandh callers never have to face the fire for snatching away their right to free movement and bread-earning exercise. Hence, it comes as a mild surprise that the authorities of Saptari district are determined to impose a ban on blockades of the highway. This is something to cheer about. But, it’s the implementation part that comes as a mountain of an obstacle.
Those who call bandhs will never learn. However, if the intended victims stand up to challenge them, the battle against those for disruptions will be won. It’s that small fear in us that prevents retaliation. The evil of calling bandhs can only be subdued through striking back and not suffering in silence.