By PR Pradhan
Kulman Ghishing, managing director of Nepal Electricity Authority, speaking at an interaction programme in Ramechhap on Saturday said that Nepal can generate 25 thousand MW electricity just from the Saptakoshi Corridor. Quoting a survey conducted by JICA in 1985, Ghishing informed that the report has shown the feasibility of generating 25 thousand MW electricity from the Saptakoshi Corridor and if a detailed survey is conducted, more electricity can be generated.
Furthermore, Ghishing informed that through diversion of different rivers, Nepal can operate medium size ships from Bangladesh and Calcutta in India upto Dolalghat. These are dream projects. The reality is different. We have had some bad experiences in the past. The Arun 3 Mega project’s works were about to start at a time when the country had adopted multiparty democracy by ending the partyless Panchayat system. The World Bank initiated and Japan funded the Arun 3 Project was scrapped along with the end of the Pandhayat system. There were vested foreign interests including the Indian interests in scrapping the Arun 3 project and finally the project was scrapped. Finally the project has been given to India after about three decades, Satluj, an Indian company is going to start the construction works of the project. Talking about our big projects, most of them have been handed over to the Indians by our political parties and the country has ended load-shedding by importing electricity from India. This is the present reality.
Our political leaders and water resource experts never become tired from distributing the dream of exporting electricity to India and other countries and making money. When the Mahakali Treaty was endorsed by the Parliament here, this scribe still remembers that the then water resources minister Pashupati Shumsher Rana was claiming that by selling the electricity generated from the Mahakali River, Nepal will enjoy surplus trade balance with India and the currency exchange rate will be one Nepali rupee equal to two Indian rupees. Much water has flown in the Mahakali Treaty, yet the DPR on the Mahakali project has to be completed, forget about completion of the project.
The impression to this scribe is that first of all, we should wipe out the dream of selling electricity to India and other countries. Sure, India will import electricity if she will get it at almost at a free price. Therefore, Nepal should construct electricity on its own by using local investment and also by taking loan from international funding agencies. Secondly, Nepal should develop its own projects consuming electricity generated industries from our hydropower companies. Operation of electric railways, cable cars and ropeways especially for transportation in remote hill areas, establishing electricity consuming industries, introducing e-cars, mono rails in urban areas, consumption of electricity in every domestic utilities are the areas for consumption of electricity generated within the country and these measures would substitute huge amount of import of the petro-products as well. Therefore, the policymakers and political leaders should develop a future plan based on consumption of electricity produced within the country. Be that as it may, without any delay, Nepal should give topmost priority in investment on hydropower by using our local resources and also by taking loans from international funding agencies.
Talking about waterways, bringing ships upto Dolalghat is not a new idea. During the 80s, already, the Indian ships were in operation from Calcutta to Allahabad. During those days, Manjur World, a youth running a social organization, Rastriya Samaj Sudhar Sanstha, was alone campaigning for Nepal’s right on waterways to Calcutta from Gandak and Koshi Rivers. He wrote many articles and also launched a campaign for waterways for Nepal, a landlocked country by India, but nobody listened to him. Forget about bringing ships upto Dolalghat immediately, if India allows, ships that can come from Calcutta to Sunsari and Triveni via the Koshi and Gandak Rivers, which merge with the River Ganga in India, it would benefit Nepal greatly. However, as this scribe believes, India will never allow this facility for Nepal. Manjur World died untimely and along with his death, the campaign for Nepal’s right on waterways ended. Neither the political leaders, nor the government officers, nor our intellectuals are talking/thinking about the waterways to the sea again. First of all, we, the Nepalis, have no courage to demand such fundamental rights before the Indian authorities and secondly, India will never co-operate for the operation of cross country waterways benefiting Nepal.
Therefore, bringing ships to Dolalghat from the Calcutta Port can be a sweet dream which will never come true.