Manang still awaits illumination under 'Bright Gandaki' scheme

Published On: May 28, 2023 03:00 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Manang, May 28: The mountainous district of Manang has not been connected to the national grid. 

The district which is solely dependent on micro hydroelectricity projects for electricity supply now faces a power crisis. Floods have damaged the structures of 13 micro hydropower projects based in the trans-Himalayan district. The damaged structures are yet to be restored and it is indeed concerning for the locals who are living in darkness for so long.

It is said materials meant for the repairing of the damaged projects are left on the streets haphazardly.

Local social worker Chhekman Gurung said they are waiting for the moment to see their localities illuminated, but are not sure when it will happen.  Only a few micro hydropower projects are in operation providing electricity to some settlements. 

The Sodikhola Hydropower Project based at Naso Rural Municipality-8 damaged by the floods remains unrepaired despite the continuous pressure on the part of the people's representatives and intellectuals, according to rural municipality chair Dhan Bahadur Gurung.

"It would be easy if the damaged projects were reconstructed and repaired, but works have not been carried out despite prodding for the same frequently," he said. Some of the damaged micro-hydel projects have been repaired with voluntary labor contributions by locals and they have resumed operation.

However, several micro-hydel projects have neither been able to bring the equipment nor the workers to start reconstruction works.

The locals say the delay is because of the problems related with the timely transportation of equipment due to the rugged terrain, and remoteness of the place.

Manang was first connected to the national grid in 2077 BS. Less than a year after this, the district was hit by massive floods and landslides which caused widespread damage to most micro-hydroelectricity projects and also cut it off from the central grid.

Ever since, the people in this mountainous district have been living in darkness.

The people of the district were elated after the Gandaki Province Government headed by Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung introduced a special program of 'Bright Gandaki' with the plan of carrying out massive electrification in the province.

But their enthusiasm has been dampened due to the delay in repair and maintenance of the damaged power infrastructure in the district.

Some of the tourism and hotel entrepreneurs of Manang have been operating hydroelectricity plants with their personal investment after the government's delay in restoring the broken power supply, said Bhujung Gurung, a tourism entrepreneur of Manang Nisyang Rural Municipality-8. He is also the ward chairperson of Manang Nisyang Rural Municipality-8.

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has said works are ongoing for installing electric poles and cables up to the Tilicho Lake. It is however not known how long this initiative of illuminating Manang up to Tilicho Lake will take.



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