EDITORIAL: Power at local level

The decision to delegate power to the local units to mange up to one megawatt of power plant will certainly help electrification in rural areas

Local level units are getting more power from the federal government which used to take all decisions applicable even to the grassroots levels. After the local level elections, the government has been gradually handing over power to the local level units to run schools up to grade XII, health centres, community forestry and district level agricultural programmes. Now the government has decided to empower the local levels even to manage and regulate small hydropower projects up to one megawatt that can be utilised locally. Earlier, private developers were required to obtain survey, generation and connection licenses from the Department of Electricity Development (DoED) even to develop a hydropower project having the capacity of one megawatt. In its latest decision, the DoED, the government body responsible for issuing license for power generation, has said all hydel projects up to one megawatt, which have obtained survey license or are under construction or are already in operation, will have to tie up with local level units. Other projects having the same capacity and which have already taken approval from the DoED are require to affiliate with the local levels. There are around 54 hydel projects up to one megawatt capacity across the country.

With this decision, the local level units will issue approval certificates for generation, transmission and distribution of energy from projects having up to one megawatt capacity. The local levels, however, have to forward the application of such projects only for “technical clearance” for the time being. The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has also agreed to the provision of technical clearance. The DoED will look into the technical issues for some time until the local levels develop their expertise in this field. The power to mange such projects was given to the local level as per the Local Government Operation Act that authorises the local units to mange small hydel projects up to one megawatt that do not overlap with others. After getting technical clearance from DoED, a developer can reach a deal with the local level unit either to connect the energy at the national grid or to distribute it in the areas specified. The local units can also collect revenue.

It has been 107 years since Nepal built 500-Kw Pharping Micro Hydropower project in 1911. But the country has been able to generate only around 700-MW of electricity since. Only 40 percent population, mostly in urban centres, has access to electricity through grid or off-grid. The government’s decision to delegate power to the local units to mange up to one megawatt of power plant will certainly help electrification in rural areas situated far away from the national grids. But delegating power to them is no enough. They need to be strengthened with technical and financial expertise. Thus, the local units can also encourage the locals and private sector to invest in small hydro plants and in renewable energy such as solar and wind farming. The federal government will also be relieved from financial burden to build grids to the far flung areas simply to meet domestic requirements. But time will tell whether the local units will be able to reap benefits from this approach.

Lend an ear

Childhood is more competitive than ever—there is pressure to do well in studies, excel in sports and stand a cut above the rest in extra-curricular activities. In today’s hyper-competitive world, parents too have their fair share of issues. Hence, they often tend to overlook their children’s problems. Experts say children these days have been found to be suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. Such problems, if not identified and addressed on time, could result in serious mental health problems.

Children suffering from anxiety or stress often show drastic behaviour changes. Experts say parents need to observe their children’s behavioural changes and talk to them. If a child refuses to go to the school or quarrels with friends too often or prefers to stay alone, parents should immediately intervene. Communication and patience are the key, say experts. Venting out frustrations on children can only worsen the situation. Parents should also stop pushing their children. Spending quality time with children and communicating with them can be a good stress buster for children. Parents may be up to their ears in work, but they should also lend an ear whenever children want to talk about their problems.