100-day honeymoon: Future perfect, present imperfect

Kathmandu, December 4:

The Maoist-led government has an ambitious hydropower-generation plan up its sleeve.

It plans to augment the supply to 10,000 MW over the next decade.

Caught in a rosy future, it has been an utter failure to tide over the present power woes. The ruling coalition has initiated ways to amend hydropower polices and Acts. Also, licences are being issued to local investors to help set up small and medium hydropower projects.

At least 46 ventures, which boast of a capacity of more than 1 MW, and 12 schemes that have capacity of less than 1 MW have got the green signal. Altogether, survey licences have been given to generate 792.5 MW.

The government claims to create a suitable environment for high investment in the power sector. For instance, efforts are on to find financial resources for Upper Tamakoshi Hydro project (UTKH), which has an installed capacity of 309 MW. Funds are likely to be raised by mortgaging Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) property.

Similarly, companies, which have been accorded survey licences like the 350-MW Upper Karnali and 402-MW Arun III projects, have already set up offices.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has inked an agreement with India to construct Naumure Multi-purpose Hydropower Project — a 245-MW initiative — on the

Rapti. The third round of talks — held by Nepal-India Joint Committee on Water Resources in the capital recently — decided to give priority to 6,480-MW Pancheshwore project.

Plans are afoot to set up Pancheshwore Development Authority, develop ministerial-level bilateral mechanism and also reconstruct the Saptakoshi dam that has been devastated by recent floods.

The 70-MW Mid-Marsyangdi Hydropower project is all set for inauguration on December 16.

NEA has made power purchase agreements with companies like Gayatri Hydro Power P Ltd, Man Sarovar Pvt Ltd and Nikhil Jalshakti Pvt Ltd over the last three months.

But, several Public -Private Partnership (PPP) proposals are also gathering dust at NEA.

Experts appreciated the government’s vision, which is symptomatic of newfound optimism as evident in the announcement of these mega projects.

Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, chairman, Hydropower Development Forum, however, is more concerned about the present — a power-starved harsh winter “Initially, the government should have tried to put an end to the ongoing power woes. An increase in import, optimum utilisation of existing plants, reduction of losses and better crisis management are enough to meet the demand,” said Pradhan.

According to the senior official, prolonged cuts are having an adverse effect on industrial productivity. “The cumulative loss is estimated around Rs 40 billion last fiscal. This time around, it is expected to rise to Rs 60 billion,” he said.

Nepal boasts of an installed capacity of 618 MW. The peak demand is 721.73 MW. Hydropower accounts for 86.75 per cent, of which 30.2 per cent comes from Internal Power Producers. Imports take care of 12.97 per cent.