PDF must come alive to boost hydropower

Kathmandu, July 29, 2005

High-level government officials and experts concerned with the hydropower sector have underscored the need for effective utilisation of resources available with Power Development Fund (PDF) to promote the role of private sector in building small and medium-sized hydropower projects. Assistant minister for water resources, Binod K Shah speaking at a stakeholders’ meet on ‘Guidelines for Availing Financing from the Power Development Fund’, admitted of not being able to fully capitalise the potential in hydropower sector. Shah said that the distribution network of electricity should be strengthened and the private sector investment in hydropower is crucial to upgrade our capacity. He added that financing for investors interested in hydropower projects is not available easily, an area in which PDF can play an instrumental role. Shovan Dev Pant, CEO of Nepal-Bangladesh Bank (NBB) which is the administrator of Power Development Fund (PDF), said that out of the total 42,000 MW of hydropower generation being ‘technically and financially’ feasible, we have been able to generate less than 600 MW due mainly to scarcity of funds. Given such a context, the role of PDF is very much crucial for co-financing projects with international and domestic lenders, including commercial banks, investment funds, export credit agencies and multilateral institutions, Pant informed. The initial corpus of the PDF is $35 million, received under the IDA loan by the government from the World Bank.

Shutdown of colleges threatened

The eight student unions today asked the Tribhuvan University (TU) to initiate matters for the release of the arrested students. The unions threatened that if the students were not freed within 36 hours, they would shut down all campuses throughout the country. According to Khimlal Bhattarai, chairman of the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU), the students should be released without any conditions. The eight student unions submitted a memorandum to Tribhuvan University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Govind Prasad Sharma to pressure the government to release the student leaders. In the Valley campuses, agitating students today protested the arrests by burning tyres, pelting stones and shouting slogans for the restoration of democracy. A total of 13 student leaders are in detention— seven from the Valley, including Gagan Kumar Thapa, former general secretary of Nepal Students Union, general secretary of All Nepal National Free Students Union Thakur Gaire, NSU vice-president Pradip Poudel, Free Students’ Union chairman of TC Campus Saroj Thapa, five students from Kailali and one from Doti.