3,500 Kalikot households without power for seven yearsThe local Sannigad micro hydropower project is in disrepair since 2019.
Around 3,500 households in Kalikot have been without electricity for the past seven years after landslides and floods destroyed the Sannigad micro hydropower project repeatedly.
The project, built in 2008, used to supply electricity to all wards in Raskot Municipality and Sannitribeni Rural Municipality, and four wards in Khadachakra Municipality, including Manma, the district headquarters.
The project was damaged first on 17 June, 2015, when floods in the Sannigad River inundated the site. It was repaired in 2018, with joint effort from the Nepal Electricity Authority, the local unit, and local organisations. The site was damaged for the second time in July, 2019, also due to floods, even before it could be brought into operation after repair.
According to Narayan Poudel, chief of the power utility’s Kalikot distribution centre, the micro hydropower generated 250 kilowatts of electricity which was supplied to the villages.
“We corresponded with the electricity authority’s head office in March this year, asking the utility to clear the landslides and floods debris to rebuild the hydropower project but we didn’t receive any response,” Poudel said. “The 2015 landslides and floods destroyed the canal which was repaired later but NEA has not sent the budget to repair the damages caused by 2019 floods.”
In 2015, 14 people died in the landslide in Sannitriveni Rural Municipality-3 and five people died in another landslide in Raskot Municipality. Both areas are near the Sannigad micro hydropower project.
About Rs130 million have been spent on the project since its establishment in 2000, although it came into operation only in 2008, according to the distribution centre. “Since 2015 only about Rs 30million has been spent by the local unit and the district electricity authority for the Sannigad project,” Poudel said.
Kamal Pandey, a local of Khadachakra, said that life has become more difficult in the villages after the disruption in electricity supply. “We haven’t had electricity since 2015. Even though the authorities claim to spend money on the project, we are still suffering from a lack of electricity.”
For a year from October 2019, the NEA provided electricity to certain areas from a generator installed at Tadi bus park, Khadachakra Municipality-3. Then Manma, the district headquarters, was connected to the national transmission grid one and half years ago but the rural villages are not.
Locals say that since Manma now has an uninterrupted supply of electricity, authorities have put the repair and operation of the project on the back burner.
“The micro hydropower project is completely neglected by the NEA and other concerned agencies,” said Hari Neupane, a local of Raskot’s ward 1. “Manma is a day’s walk from my village and I have to cover that distance just to be able to use electricity. My village still does not have electricity.”
According to Jai Prasad Pandey, an employee at the project, efforts are being made to expand the capacity of the project along with the maintenance of canals and machines.
Pandey said that since so much money has already been spent on the project, it is not ideal to leave it now. “We can supply electricity to dozens of villages once we repair and increase the project’s capacity,” Pandey said. “I hope the authorities understand the importance of this project for the locals of Kalikot.”