Regional cooperation in energy development could make great strides in practice if countries of the region worked in the spirit of mutuality of interests
The future of South Asia looks bright as it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
However, there is concern about whether it would be able to overcome the energy poverty that it is now facing. With a growth rate projected to be 7.3 per cent in 2017 as against 7.1 per cent in 2016 in the region focus is being laid in ensuring that there is enough growth in the production of energy in order to power development endeavours.
Therefore, it is likely that the region will save as much as $226 billion by establishing an effective and efficient electricity grid in the region between 2015 and 2040.
This is feasible provided the countries in South Asia cooperate effectively with one another in the energy sector.
This sector has not been able to develop although it has been making efforts to do so for the last two decades. What we need is to boost regional cooperation in this regard when the need of the hour is to gather momentum in generating the required energy in the days ahead to power that is necessary.
It is sad to state that there is a trust deficit among the countries concerned mainly between the major players. As such, the stakeholders and experts in a regional dialogue have laid much stress on the development of a regional electricity grid, particularly because there is much space for power trade in South Asia.
If this bid is to materialize the private sector should also be involved to generate energy and build transmission lines which are much in demand. In order to do so there is no alternative to coordination among the countries involved so that it would be possible to see cooperation in the energy sector.
South Asia can easily meet the demand for energy through cooperation because of the load profiles.
An example is that Nepal and India can benefit immensely because there is high demand of electricity in Nepal during the dry season and it has surplus energy during the rainy season whereas in India the case is just the opposite.
Nepal could very well become an energy exporter as it is located close to the load centre of India. Nepal has the potential to gain by supplying surplus energy to both India and Bangladesh.
Experts also moot trilateral cooperation among Nepal, India and Bangladesh which is essential for the development of the energy market through generating more energy.
This could be done by making necessary policies and also reforms in the energy sector without which it would be difficult to find investment from both the private and foreign investors. What is called for is reform in the power sector and also coordination so far lacking in the policy, legal and regulatory frameworks.
Should this be achieved it would foster intra-regional investment in the energy sector. As the region still relies on fossil fuels for energy, clean energy from hydel plants would also contribute to the reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide enabling the region to achieve the target set by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The concept of regional cooperation in energy development could make great strides in practice if the countries of the region worked truly in the spirit of mutuality of interests and fair distribution of the investment and benefits.
Restore the lake
Rupa Lake is on the verge of extinction because of human encroachment, soil erosion and invasive plants like water hyacinth that spreads fast in swamp areas.
One of the major reasons behind the shrinking of the lake can be attributed to the land erosion from the surrounding hills where country roads are built without taking into account environmental consequences.
Due to heavy deposit of mud every year during the rainy season, the lake has been reduced to 8.75 hectares of water land from its total area of 163.9 hectares; 33 hectares of land has been illegally occupied by locals for farming.
The Lekhanath Municipality where the now-shrunken lake is situated must take the sole responsibility to preserve its sanctity and beauty by restoring the water body.
One of the daunting tasks to restore its originality is to remove the soil deposited underneath the lake bed and discourage the locals from encroaching upon it.
As the lake is very close to the Pokhara Sub-Metropolis locals can earn their living from various tourism activities and fishery business if the lake is well preserved.
However, the locals must be taken into confidence to restore its lost glory.
A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.