Heading Towards Load-shedding-free Society
Nepal is a country where every sector is in a shambles, be it health, education, drinking water or transportation. Amid such a chaotic situation, a ray of hope has arisen with Kulman Ghising assuming the reins of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) as its Managing Director. It is a wonder that within one month of assuming the mantle of NEA, he was able to free the Kathmandu Valley of load-shedding which had been in force for donkey’s years.
In the past, the high-ranking NEA officials used to project the gap between demand and supply by exaggerating demand and underestimating supply, thus justifying their compulsion to go for load-shedding. They used to sell electricity to business houses for commission, thus depriving the general people of the much-needed electricity.
Even during the Madhes agitation and the Indian blockade when most of the industries were shut down for lack of raw materials, load-shedding was still there as usual. All this shows that great injustice was meted out against the people in the past, whereas businessmen, especially those dealing in alternative power devices like solar power systems, generators, invertors and emergency lights, could make hefty money.
The initiative of Kulman Ghising in ending load-shedding is indubitably praiseworthy. It is exemplary so much so that if only this initiative could be replicated in other sectors as well, the country could achieve the status of developing country before 2022.
In the past, the government would bring out various plans for ending load-shedding by a certain period of time when it was not necessary to resort to load-shedding. Viewed thus, the government was pulling the wool over the eyes of the people. Last year, KP Sharma Oli vowed to end load-shedding within one or two years. If he wanted to end load-shedding, he could do so right then. But he did not by following in the footsteps of his predecessors.
Depriving the people of electricity for personal interests is a crime of a great magnitude. Those guilty of indulging in such a heinous crime should be brought to book. But till now, the government has not taken any initiative in investigating the matter and bringing the guilty to book.
It is not that Kulman Ghising did not face any opposition while embarking upon a load-shedding-ending campaign. Even some officials at the NEA tried to create a roadblock in his campaign. He was also accused of using the emergency reserve at Kulekhani to gain cheap popularity. But all these allegations turned out to be false. Now Kulman Ghising is riding on the crest of popularity.
It must be mentioned that the Energy Minister also deserves kudos for siding with Kulman Ghising. Had he not got support from the Minister, it would have been heavy going for him to end load-shedding in the Kathmandu Valley.
Kulman Ghising has formulated a plan to end load-shedding all over the country by June this year. The end of load-shedding has positive ramifications on the economy of the country. Saving of fuel used for operating generators is a big advantage for the industrial sector. Further, industries can engage in production in an uninterrupted manner. Now householders have also been able to go about their work with a sigh of relief.
Recently, NEA has added 53 MW of power to the national grid. The power consists of 40 MW imported from India and 13 MW contributed by the private sector. This has also contributed to ending load-shedding in the Kathmandu Valley.
It has been possible to end load-shedding in the Kathmandu Valley through good management and distribution of the available power. There are still many things that need to be done to improve the energy sector. There are not adequate transmission lines in the country. As such, the county is not in a position to import as much power as required from neighbouring countries. So construction of such transmission lines at various strategic places is a must to make the load-shedding-ending campaign a grand success.
Politicisation of the NEA is another hurdle. Like other public corporations, the NEA is also a recruitment ground for the political leaders. Just recently, action was taken against three of the members of the Board of Directors, who obstructed the noble campaign for ending load-shedding. As long as there is political interference in the affairs of any organization, that organisation cannot prosper to the desired extent. Therefore, it is necessary to depoliticise the affairs of the NEA - and other public corporations for that matter.
The NEA itself claims that power pilferage and leakages are rampant at around 30 per cent. If only such pilferage and leakages could be controlled, there would be more power for distribution among the people. Those indulging in power pilferage should be strictly punished. As far as technical leakages are concerned, they can be controlled by adopting measures like replacing the substandard transformers with good ones and installing good transformers where required. In the past, the use of substandard transformers gave rise to several problems like explosions and the NEA had to pay a heavy price for it. It was all due to the corrupt mentality of some NEA officials.
The government and the NEA should also ponder over completing ongoing hydel projects and start the ones in the pipeline such as the 750 MW West Seti Hydropower Project. With the initiative of Kulman Ghising in ending load-shedding, there has emerged optimism among the people that the county will make a headway against load-shedding in the days to come by harnessing potential hydropower that has been going down the drain for years. Let’s hope that ours will soon be a load-shedding-free society and the country be able to export power to its neghbouring countries, thus improving its economy. This will also help in cutting down the trade deficit to some extent.