The charging stations will not only save foreign currency, but will also use the energy that we generate within the country

The state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and a Chinese contractor, Jiangsu Wanbang Dehe New Energy Technology Company, reached an agreement on Tuesday to install 50 charging stations for electric vehicles in the major cities and highways of the seven provinces. The NEA handed over the contract to the company for the 'supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning, operation and maintenance of the electric vehicle charging stations' in the areas already identified by the power utility. As per the agreement, the Rs 377.9 million project will have to be completed within a year of the date of signing the contract. The Chinese company will take the responsibility of maintenance of the charging stations for five years after they come into operation. Every charging station will have chargers of 142 kW capacity and 50 KVA transfer, along with online billing system. Three vehicles – large or small – can be charged at once in a station. NEA is also installing software at its data centre to handle more than 300 charging stations to be built in the future.

All the 50 charging stations will be controlled from Kathmandu. Digital payment gateway (QRCode or mobile apps) will be used for the payment of the energy used in the charging stations.

As per the agreement, the charging stations will be set up along the major highways and city bus parks.

Of the total, 13 charging stations will be installed in Bagmati Province, 7 in the Kathmandu Valley, 5 in Province 1, 7 in Province 2, 6 in Gandaki Province, 8 in Lumbini Province, 1 in Karnali (Surkhet) and 3 in Sudurpashchim Province. NEA has plans to increase the number of charging stations to 300 in the near future. However, the charging fee will be determined as per the Electricity Tariff By-laws-2077, which has set separate charging fees depending upon the time when a vehicle is charged. If a vehicle is charged during the peak hour from 5 pm to 11 pm, the charging fee will be Rs 7 per hour, while the charging fee will be Rs 3.70 during the peak-off hour from 11 pm to 5 am. The charging fee from 5 am to 5 pm has been fixed at Rs 5.50 per hour.

The NEA took this initiative as per the government's policies and programmes unveiled for the current fiscal. As NEA will have surplus energy after the 456MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydel Project comes into operation within a couple of months, it has to find ways to consume the surplus energy. Other private developers are also set to complete their projects within a year. Currently, NEA and the private sector has a combined total installed capacity of over 1,182MW. It will reach upto 1,800MW by end of this fiscal. There are around 50,000 two and four wheeler e-vehicles plying the streets. The number of e-vehicles will jump if the NEA can install more charging stations in the major cities. These stations will not only save hard-earned foreign currency that is used for importing fossil fuels, but will also use the energy generated within the country, besides contributing to minimising air pollution in the cities.

The vehicles running on fossil fuels contribute to around 38 per cent for air pollution. Many more people are sure to switch to e-vehicles if we have more charging stations.

Animal lives matter

The brutal killing of a stray dog, named Khaire, in Dhulikhel on Monday has created quite a stir, with animal lovers and young activists demanding justice for it. The dog fell victim to the wrath of two men, who killed it with an iron rod and a shovel after chaining it to a pole, when the animal injured a local who was trying to feed it peanuts. Although cruelty to animals in Nepal can invite a jail sentence or a fine, the perpetrators of the savagery have not been brought to book yet, as desired by the activists, and it is most unlikely that they will be.

In a country where majority of the people live lives no better than animals, it would be naïve to seek the law's implementation. Any prevention of cruelty to animals will have to begin at the abattoirs, where they are slaughtered in the most inhuman manner.

But are the Nepalis willing to forego meat until the ways to kill an animal for food improve? Protests over animal rights have also led to a proliferation in the street dog population in the Kathmandu Valley, who pose a risk to people's health and hygiene. But still, we can allow all animals to live peaceful lives, without them having to meet a brutal end as in the case of Khaire in Dhulikhel.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.