Parsa-Birganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry is urgently calling for the immediate reconnection of electricity lines to six industries within the Bara-Parsa industrial corridor within the next 24 hours.
During a press briefing held by the association on Tuesday, President Anil Kumar Agarwal urgently requested that the industries be provided with electricity within the next 24 hours. He emphasized the critical need for this action, citing the ongoing disruption of physical infrastructure construction and other nationwide projects caused by the severed power lines in these industries. Agarwal warned of potential permanent closures and the subsequent loss of jobs for 20 to 25 thousand workers if immediate measures are not taken.
Agarwal further insisted on the prompt resolution of this dispute, citing earlier assurances of the formation of a commission under the guidance of a former judge to address the existing issue. He expressed concerns over the Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) policy on electricity tariffs, characterizing it as irrelevant and impractical. According to Agarwal, industrial customers are currently grappling with injustice and confusion due to these policies.
“When the operational activities of industries with severed power lines come to a halt, the workforce finds themselves out on the streets,” he remarked.
Madhav Rajpal, the second vice-president of the association, emphasized that industrialists have never stated an unwillingness to pay tariffs for consumption through dedicated and trunk lines. He clarified that the private sector’s position is solely centered on the belief that it is unjust to pay for electricity tariffs that have not been utilized.
Rajpal explained that during the period of load shedding, the Nepal Electricity Authority had issued a notice on October 20, 2013, indicating that customers interested in purchasing electricity from dedicated/trunk feeders would receive over 20 hours of electricity daily at a premium tariff. “Following the recommendations of the study committee chaired by Manoj Kumar Mishra, the then director of the authority, the board of directors convened on June 27, 2015, to establish the premium fee. However, the official body responsible for tariff determination, the Electricity Tariff Determination Commission, ultimately decided on a new tariff on Jan 13, 2016,” he stated. Rajpal mentioned that the committee, led by Secretary Dinesh Ghimire, proposed that premium fees should not be applied before the tariff determination commission (before Jan 5, 2016) and after the country is free from load shedding (after May 15, 2018). He emphasized that the primary dispute regarding the tariff of dedicated and trunk lines emerged during this period.
Subodh Kumar Gupta, the former president of the association and a central member of the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asserted that it is entirely accurate to affirm that industries that did not request dedicated/trunk lines and adhered to load shedding regulations will not be liable for tariffs before January 5, 2016, and after May 15, 2018. He accused the government and the authority of exacerbating the issue without pursuing an immediate solution. Additionally, he noted that industries complying with load shedding regulations are willing to pay the tariff if the authority can substantiate their electricity consumption during load shedding using data from the TOD meter.
Despite the authority’s declaration of the end of load shedding in July 2015 and on May 26, 2018, the issuance of the premium fee bill until June 2021 is the fundamental cause of the ongoing dispute,” he remarked
Ashish Lath, the secretary-general of the association, highlighted that the severed power lines in industries are not only affecting those businesses but are also causing disruptions in the construction of physical infrastructure nationwide.
He expressed concern that the country’s capital market index is on a continuous decline, and despite banks having abundant funds for investment, the market lacks investors. Criticizing the government’s approach during economic downturns, he stated, “Instead of enhancing the industry’s capacity by providing more support to existing businesses in the country, the government has undermined the industrial sector. The question arises: where is the country’s economic situation heading, and who bears responsibility for it?” Urging an immediate resolution to the dispute, he proposed the formation of a specialized high-level committee, including representatives from the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nepal Chamber of Commerce, and the Nepal Electricity Authority. The aim is to facilitate the resolution of issues and create an environment conducive to the seamless operation of industries.
He mentioned that if industrialists are found lacking, appropriate measures should be taken. However, he emphasized that it is unjust to subject workers and their families to hardships by shutting down industries that support thousands of households.