KATHMANDU, Aug Sept 1: It is nearly a year since the government announced to reduce significantly within a year and completely within two years. But there has been no respite from power cuts.
Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma on Wednesday said that they would need two more years to end power outage completely.
Speaking at a program organized in his honor by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Sharma said: “We, however, have to work 18 hours a day to achieve the target of ending power cuts.”
Sharma added that it might take another one year if the work speed remains the same.
Former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, in October last year when the country was facing acute shortage of petroleum products, announced to end load-shedding within a year. It took another five months for his government to prepare energy development plan for a decade that, among others, aimed to end power shortage by importing electricity from India. Among others, Oli government had announced plan to generate 200 MW from solar thermal power and 300 MW from wind plants. But the progress is nil in both fronts.
An additional 180 MW power will be connected to the national grid in the current fiscal year and similar capacity in the next fiscal year. But it will be simply insufficient to meet burgeoning power demand which is expected to climb 2,000 MW by the next two years.
"Domestic generation will be simply insufficient, and import cannot solve the problem as there is no transmission line," Sharma said, adding that Kathmandu will face more power cuts as existing transmission line can support supply of an additional 180 MW only.
Though the country has been seeing daily power outage of up to 18 hours since 2005, generation has remained disappointingly low. As many as four different plans were announced to end load shedding over the past decade, but none has yielded results.
FNCCI President Pashupati Murarka, however, is hopeful that the new minister will translate the energy development plan into action.
Experts, however, say that will have to wait for at least few months to judge him based on the performance of government projects like Chameliya, Kulekhani III and several sick transmission line projects, among others.
Murarka suggested to Sharma to unbundle Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to pave the way for formation of separate entities to look after energy generation and distribution.
The Hydropower Development Policy of 2001 had envisioned unbundling NEA into separate entities. But it is yet to come into implementation.
"Ten years ago, we had assessed that the energy crisis will be a burden for the country. We have seen it now. Unfortunately, the government did nothing to avoid it,” added Murarka.
He lamented that the government was not prioritizing industrial sector though it consumes around 40 percent of country's total energy consumption. “NEA has been imposing more power cuts on the industrial sector,” he added.