EDITORIAL: Very encouraging

The country will no longer face any energy crisis even during the dry season after the UTHEP comes into operation

A fully domestic funded 456-MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project (UTHEP) has made a breakthrough by digging the main tunnel channeling water from headwork to the powerhouse. A breakthrough to this effect was made on Sunday after the project was started some five years ago with the total financing mobilized from within the country. The 8.4-km long tunnel, the longest one among all hydropower projects so far, was dug from both the sides – from headrace to tailrace – to complete the most difficult job. High level government officials including energy secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyaya and Managing Director of the Nepal Electricity Authority Kulman Singh Ghising were also present to witness the breakthrough on the tunnel which is considered to be a major hydropower project. After the breakthrough was made on the tunneling UTHEP officials have said that they have completed 92 percent work of the project, and it will be able to evacuate energy within 10 months to come.

When the project was started in 2012 it was envisaged to generate energy by mid-July 2016. But it could not be done so mainly due to the devastating earthquake in 2015 and subsequent border blockade for more than five months. Although the quake did not cause any damage to the entire project, including the tunnel already dug, the project was delayed by two years as the access roads to the project were badly damaged which took several months to repair. The district of Dolakha where the project is located

was worst hit by the natural disaster. However, going by the standard of work culture of the country it can be fairly said that the UTHEP had steadily worked as per the schedule but was hampered by the quake and political turmoil. The works in the project went smoothly as it received cooperation from the locals and political parties as it has promised 10 percent of its share to the locals of Dolakha district.

The initial cost of the project was estimated to be Rs. 35 billion. But the project has already spent Rs. 38.83 billion because of the delay in construction due to the earthquake and border blockade. The project officials have said that the cost of the project will further go up to Rs. 42 billion by the time its construction is complete. The NEA has the largest share of 41 percent, Nepal Telecom six percent and Citizen Investment Trust and Rastriya Beema Sansthan have two percent each. Likewise the depositors of the Employees Provident Fund, NT, RBS and CIT have altogether 24 percent in the share. Fifteen percent of the share has been allocated for the general public from outside Dolakha district. It is expected that the country will no longer face any energy crisis even during the dry season after the UTHEP comes into operation. Other projects totaling 200-MW being built by the private sector will also be completed by that time and the country may not need to import energy from outside. This project has also taught

lessons to the power developers that giving a share the local people will not only help save time and money but also contribute to raising the economic condition of the locals.

Air pollution

Although the quality of air has been deteriorating over the years so far the government has made no effort to control it. Nepal had introduced air quality monitoring 15 years ago. What we lack is accurate and comparative data to analyze the quality of the air. Air monitoring had begun in 2002 when the

Danish Government set up seven air quality stations in the capital valley. These stations measure particulate matter in the air as well as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and also ozone in the atmosphere.

After the stations were handed over to the government by the Danes a misunderstanding let to the closure of these stations in 2009. Air quality monitoring in Kathmandu Valley resumed after the installation of a station in Ratna Park in August of last year. Now works are underway to install six additional stations. The process of installing 56 stations in all parts of the country is being mooted. Although many countries, including the neighbouring countries, are doing something to mitigate the effects of air pollution nothing of this sort is being done in Nepal. Since air pollution can cause many diseases every effort should be made to deal with this deadly form of pollution.