The sustainable energy that we get from solar and wind will also help keep our environment clean
Eighty-five households of Hariharpur village of Sindhui district will not have to depend on the national grid to get their houses lighted as they have off-grid energy supply from solar and wind mix. Assisted by the Asian Development Bank under South Asia Sub-Regional Power System Expansion Project the locals have installed 20-kilowatt wind energy and 15-kilowatt solar system at the cost of Rs. 19 million. The locals contributed Rs. 1.74 million and the government exempted the VAT for the machinery bought for the project. The villagers of this remote area will have reliable sources of electricity from clean source of energy. With the installation of the clean mix energy the locals have started running small scale enterprises such as river mills, saw mills and photocopy machines. The energy from this system will be used for productive purpose in the day time, and it can be used to light their households for the night time. Students will also be able to continue with their studies as they no longer will have to depend on oil-fed lamps which is harmful to health and the local environment. This mini-grid will be run by the locals by setting up a cooperative which will determine the price of electricity.
Until a decade ago, the clean energy used to remain only as an alternative source of energy as it was expensive to harness and many thought that it could not replace the traditional sources of energy such as nuclear energy, coal-fired plants and hydroelectric projects. With the technological advancement made in the clean energy sector the prices for photovoltaic panels and the batteries installed to store energy from the solar system have now become cheaper every year. The solar and wind system have gradually become commercially viable, and they are going to replace the traditional sources of energy in the near future. Many developed countries have also vowed to switch towards clean energy and have also set deadlines to stop the use of fossil fuels to run vehicles.
Nepal is situated in an ideal location for harnessing the solar and wind energy. Scientific studies have shown that Nepal receives almost 10 hours of sunshine every day which is ideal to generate reliable energy from the solar system. The country’s hilly areas, where commercial agricultural prospects are comparatively less than in Tarai, are ideal for generating energy from solar and wind farming. We no longer have to depend solely on hydropower projects to generate energy for our domestic requirements if we manage to harness the potentials of solar and wind energy. There are several areas such as in Mustang and Kaligandaki River corridor and hilly areas in Nawalparasi district from where wind energy can be tapped at low cost. Some private firms have already generated small amounts of energy from the solar and wind mix. But it is high time the government encouraged the private sector to make huge investments in solar and wind energy with attractive incentives. We get sunlight and wind free of cost. The only thing that we need to do is to tap them using modern technology for our economic prosperity. The sustainable energy that we get from solar and wind will also help keep our environment clean.
Rupakot-Majhuwagadhi Municipality in Khotang has decided to ban the use of tobacco products in public places. Those caught violating the rules would have to cough up Rs. 500 as fines. This is indeed a very commendable step taken by the municipality. Smoking not only has an adverse on the health of smokers but passive smokers also suffer from inhaling the smoke through no fault of theirs. Although all shops selling tobacco products are required to have the license to do so the majority of them do not possess it. Cigarettes are easily available from groceries.
It is also prohibited to sell tobacco products to those below 18 years in age and also pregnant women. This provision is widely ignored. It is high time the concerned clamped down on smoking. However, hotels have certain places where smoking is permitted. This is a move in the right direction for 15,000 people in Nepal die every year from consumption of tobacco products. Other municipalities should also have similar provisions that would not permit people to smoke in public places. This ban should be strictly enforced. As is widely known smoking and the consumption of tobacco products harm those partaking of them physically, socially and economically.
A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.