EDITORIAL: Clear the hassles

The government should also identify the goods or products that can be exported to third countries with competitive advantages

Over a dozen industrialists who had reached a memorandum of understanding with the government 16 months ago to set up industries at the Bhairahawa-based Special Economic Zone (SEZ) are now facing various problems, including regular supply of electricity. When the SEZ was set up with much fanfare the government had promised to provide all necessary facilities including supply of electricity. It is learnt that the locals have created obstruction over the installation of poles carrying electricity to the SEZ. It all happened due to lack of inter-agency coordination. The Distribution System Augmentation and Expansion Project under the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is supposed to make arrangements for power supply to the SEZ. The project was authorized to do its task of supplying energy there some three months ago. But it has not been able to complete its task due to local protests. The project is supported by the Asian Development Bank. The project has now started building a sub-station at Dhakdhai, some 15-km east of Bhairahawa, from where the required amount of electricity is to be carried to the SEZ. Earlier, supply of electricity to the SEZ was not envisaged in the project. However, the NEA leadership instructed the project to supply electricity from a dedicated 33 kV line from Dhakdhai sub-station which is connected with sub-station in Butwal.

The locals in Butwal’s Pragatinagar, Devdaha and Bekavar have been creating hassles after the NEA started erecting transmission lines linking to Dhakdhai sub-station. According to the concerned authorities, the erection of poles and installation of transmission lines can be completed within two weeks if the locals cooperated with them. According to the plan, the SEZ is to get about 40 MW of dedicated electricity from Butwal and Dhakdhai sub-stations. The amount of energy is sufficient to fully operate the SEZ where a number of industries will start export-oriented productions. The NEA has also planned to connect the special economic zone with a 132 kV transmission line from Butwal to Bhairahawa via the bank of Tinau River. But it will take at least two years to complete the project.

Once the SEZ comes into full operation, it will have to export 75 percent of its products. The government has provided easy facility for customs clearance, banking system and parking lot for the goods and vehicles. But the government received only some proposals from the private sector to set up businesses in the SEZ because of the poor infrastructure and lack of coordination among the line ministries and their departments. This economic zone was created with a view to exporting goods to India and other third countries. The government must provide the necessary supports, including electricity, telecommunications facilities, security, and the customs office should be smart enough to clear the customs duty on time without any hassles. Investors will not be attracted to set up their industries unless an investment-friendly environment is created. The government, on the other hand, should also identify the goods or products that can be exported to third countries with competitive advantages. Dedicated supply of electricity is a prerequisite to set up any business or industry, be it in the SEZ or in other parts of the country.

Free treatment

The number of people being killed or maimed in traffic accidents is on the increase. Many of the accident victims die due to lack of prompt care. As such, the government is planning emergency ambulance services for accident victims. These ambulances would be equipped with the necessary tools and equipment that are required for immediate treatment of the patients. These patients would then be treated in hospitals, if required. These mobile ambulances would be able to provide the accident victims treatment on the spot.

The Ministry of Health is also mooting providing free treatment to all people injured in road accidents throughout the country. The cabinet is expected to take up this matter sooner than later. The cost of treatment will be managed from the Health Security Fund. One paisa would be charged additionally on petroleum products. This money would be deposited in the fund. These measures would be able to reduce deaths from traffic accidents. Moreover, the poor condition of the roads is a major reason for accidents.