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Home News Power Sector News 14 hours load shedding - Nepal decares power emergency

14 hours load shedding - Nepal decares power emergency

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PrachandaWhile the rest of the world steps up festivities to welcome this new year, Nepal faces a dismal future with its Maoist government announcing a power emergency due to severe power crisis. Already enduring a 10-hour power outage daily, Nepal will see the blackout rise to 14-16 hours  as its main power-producing river has begun drying up and the nation faces its worst ever energy crisis.

The council of ministers  declared a national power emergency, which will cause the government's popularity to dip further and deliver a hard blow to industries, tourism, education and healthcare services. Enriched with mighty Himalayan rivers, Nepal has the potential to generate 83,000 MW of clean hydro energy. But in reality, about
one percent of this has been realised. Politics, corruption and instability strangled the growth of the hydro power sector, which could transform the economy of one of the poorest nations in Asia.

At present, the main storage power producer is the Kulekhani river that generates 140 MW. However, with a lean monsoon this year, the water level in the reservoir is fast shrinking. One option is to import power from India. In September, India's Power Trading Corporation signed an agreement to supply additional power to tide over the crisis.

However, the transmission lines between south Nepal and India were damaged during floods in August and despite posturing to rebuild the damaged infrastructure on a war-footing, the government has failed to repair the lines so far.

Nepal is estimated to suffer a loss of about Nepali Rs.45bn ($700m) due to the power crisis that has caused dozens of industries to close. Faced with growing public anger, the Prachanda government this month announced it would commission thermal plants to generate power till the crisis is over.

However, energy experts have pointed out that the cost of power generated by such plants would be astronomically high. With Nepal's record of kickbacks and corruption, the addition is likely to create another economic crisis.

The Himalayan nation produces only about half its electricity needs though the mountainous terrain has huge potential for generating hydro electricity. Much of the power imported from from neighboring India is not enough to make up the shortfall.

The decade-long Maoist insurgency hampered economic development in Nepal, including the building of new power plants. There has been no end to political and economic instability in the impoverished nation even as the Prachanda-led government has promised to create conducive environment for business.

Courtsey - PTI

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