And there was lightThe government and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) have been taking a number of active steps to end load-shedding in the country.
The government and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) have been taking a number of active steps to end load-shedding in the country. The NEA’s new managing director Kulman Ghising has been widely acclaimed for fighting entrenched interest groups that were allegedly siphoning off electricity from the grid to sell on the black market.
This measure alone, it is believed, seems to have led to a major decrease in load-shedding in the Kathmandu Valley. Another factor that has helped is an increase in the import of electricity from India. Only last week, the two countries reached an agreement whereby India will supply an additional 80 MW of electricity through the Dhalkebar-Muzzaffarpur cross-border transmission line.
The NEA and India’s NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) signed a supplementary power purchase agreement (PPA) on December 22, according to which Nepal will receive 40 MW from January on, and an additional 40 MW from February to May 2017—the worst months in terms of power cuts. Nepal currently imports 80 MW of electricity through this transmission line. The new agreement means that the total sum will now reach 160 MW.
Yet these measures are geared towards a short-term respite. In the longer term, a more comprehensive and far-reaching policy towards ensuring energy self-sufficiency will have to be formulated.
Nonetheless, the government’s efforts are to be commended. After all, a shortage of electricity has seriously hampered people’s livelihoods and the country’s development and even measures intended for the short term can contribute significantly to improving daily life. We hope that the government will continue to provide electricity at the same level this winter as it has been doing so far.
Still, there are various other steps that the government has to take to end load-shedding in the future. First and foremost, measures have to be taken to ensure that NEA officials do not sell off electricity on the black market once Ghising leaves his post.
For this to happen, NEA officials who were responsible for such illegal activity have to be held accountable. They need to be identified and prosecuted. This will demonstrate clearly that the state does not tolerate theft of public resources and will inhibit officials and other employees from engaging in such criminal behavior in the future.
In addition, the government needs to adopt measures for implementing a comprehensive energy policy to bring various hydroelectric projects into operation, including by improving cooperation with India and other countries. In the longer term, the government should also take steps to expand its alternative energy programme. Wind and solar power could offer effective alternatives for the provision of electricity to Nepal’s population.