Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Power for a Brighter Nepal

Nepal is not on the verge of collapse—militarily nor economically. All these rumors about a collapse, and articles that the King is preparing to go in exile, and that the Americans in Nepal being called to a town meeting and requested to prepare to evacuate on short notice, and that the Maoists have completed encircled Kathmandu, are all propaganda spread for one or the other reason, and these things will continue until the Nepalese media becomes more professional, accountable, and not driven by the smell of money and cynicism.

I would, for a change, like to divert the readers' attention, to a crisis that is genuinely hurting Nepal. Power. Electrical Power. As we all know, Nepal is witnessing severe power shortages since the last few months now, and in the absence of rain to fill our aquifers, it is only going to get worse in the coming days. It has come to our attention that the water in Kulekhani dam, the only storage type hydropower project in Nepal, is going to last less 20 days. This is a matter of grave concern. Nepal currently has an installed capacity of a little over 600 MW, but actual generation is far, far less than this. Currently, we are generating less than 150 MW, while peak demand is over 550 MW. That is a deficit of 400 MW!

So what put us in this situation? Yes, the lack of rainfall this winter has certainly exacerbated the problem. No rainfall, less water in our rivers, less generation. However, the fact is that even if we had normal rainfall, we would still be experiencing load shedding because the majority of our run-of the-river hydropower plants produce less than 30% of installed capacity during the winter months due to reduced stream flow, a natural phenomenon in our monsoon dependent hydrology. A solution to this would be building more storage type facilities which could store the excess water during the monsoon, and utilize this in the dry winter months. The Kulekhani is precisely built for this purpose, and in previous years, generation from this plant would mostly be done during the winter months when other plants experience reduced generation. However, this year the Kulekhani was operational in full gear from the end of the last monsoon season, because Nepal failed to develop enough additional hydropower projects to keep up with our ever increasing domestic demand.

So that brings us to the question of why we have not been able to build additional plants. The rhetoric has always been that Nepal's domestic demand is low, Nepal does not have the financial resources to expand hydropower plants, and that India, the only market for power export, is not willing to buy power from Nepal at a reasonable price. THIS IS ALL BULLSHIT!

Here are a few facts to challenge such a claim:

1. Nepal's domestic demand is certainly far greater than the current supply, which makes economic sense to investment in this sector.

2. India's current power deficit is over 8,000 MW (yes, eight thousand megawatts)!! This has been cited as the major impediment to faster economic growth in India, which has forced them to recently sign a deal with the US to allow civilian nuclear development. You must be nuts to believe that India will not buy power from us!

3. India is Financing Bhutan’s major hydropower projects (Chukha 336 MW and Tala 1020 MW) on a 60% grant 40% loan at an interest rate of 5-9%. About 70% of the power is exported to India at a rate of approximately INR 2 per unit. Last year the Government of Bhutan earned $52 million. Once the Tala hydel is completed (mid 2006), Bhutan’s annual revenue from hydropower export will reach $214 million, and this is expected to increase Bhutan’s per capita income from the current $700 to $1200! FROM ONE MAJOR HYDROPOWER PROJECT!

4. Nepal boasts of 83,000 MW of hydropower potential, of which 43,000 MW is techno-economically feasible. Yet we have tapped less than 1% of that potential, while Bhutan will generate twice as much as us by the end of this year.

5. The West Seti hydel project (750 MW) which was to create 352,000 jobs and earn Nepal $308 million annually has still not started. No other large projects are in sight. With the killing of the Arun III dream, all investors seem to have backed out, especially with the ongoing insurgency. The environmental outcry on this project were all fabricated lies. So what if a small patch of forest would have been destroyed in constructing the access road. With the power and income from such a large project, we would have saved 100 other such forests by now. We probably could have attracted a lot of the manufacturing jobs that went to Bangladesh and other South Asian countries if we only had that additional power. We could be earning over $100 million from exporting the power to India. But all that is gone because a few “environmentalists” blew up the reality for a couple of thousand dollars worth of consultancy money, and the 24 million people of Nepal lost.

6. However, to top all this is one fact and that is the LICENSING of HYDROPOWER PROJECTS IN NEPAL! As we stand, the Department of Electricity Development, within the Ministry of Water issues the license to survey, develop, and operate hydel projects in Nepal. The problem is that it has sold licenses to almost every viable site throughout the Kingdom of Nepal and guess what? The survey license holder has 5 years to survey the site, and he/she can easily extend the duration for another 5 years. There are no performance guarantees required. This means that the license, once issued, is valid for 10 years without having to do anything, and this is precisely what is happening. Someone out there has a license to every potential hydropower project identified by the government, and they are demanding 15-30% share from any prospective investor to “use” their license or asking for huge sums of money to sell them!!

This is the main reason we have not seen investments in hydropower in Nepal.

THIS IS A REQUEST TO ALL NEPALESE AND SUPPORTERS TO PLEASE BRING THIS TO LIGHT AND PRESSURE THE GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE ALL LICENSES THAT HAVE BEEN ISSUED WHERE THE CONCERNED PARTIES HAVE NOT MADE ANY PROGRESS SINCE THEY GOT THE LICENSE.

If we start now, and the government revokes these licenses and reissues them to those parties that are genuine, and the Maoists do not disrupt construction and operation, my estimate is that we will start catching up to meet domestic demand in 3-4 years. This is the fastest things can turn around. However, it is difficult for a government to just revoke a license that it issued in the first place, so they will probably give these bastards a few years to demonstrate progress, and revoke the license if they fail to perform. This will extent the timeframe for another 2-3 years. So I seriously don’t see any change for at least 5 years. Now, isn’t this a concern of National Importance?

As the Nepal Advocacy Group, I think we should take up this challenge and advocate for a Brighter Nepal!!

28 Comments:

At 5:32 AM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous Brit said...

You are right Shiva - Wattage is crucial for development.

Hydro-power has clearly great potential in Nepal however the terrain (also) hinders the logistics of deploying it throughout the country - not that this is any excuse for licence holders to do nothing.

Another energy source you have in abundance is sunlight - solar panels can provide local power sources without need for civil engineering. To kickstart the economy the government should provide incentives for widespread solar installations (and make sure no-one can gain fraudulant advantage from related contracts).

 
At 7:18 AM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article, Shiva and most topical.

Seems like all your facts are in order.

Maybe we name and shame the licence holders?

naagboy

 
At 8:11 AM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous C.K said...

THIS is THE power behind BRIGHTER NEPAL, not just in terms of electricity, but in terms of educated, wellinformed, proactive and intelligent youth.
This is what is needed. For those of us who are abroad, spreading awareness through articles like this is vital,just like this, given the reach of technology.

Great insight. Good article.

 
At 9:41 AM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

I will be travelling to Nepal at the end of March. I understand that there will be som big rallies going on the 8th of April. I will arrive in Kathmandu on the 30th of March. Will it be possible to get out of Kathmandu and to the Annapurna region at this time? Is it advisable at all to travel to Nepal during this time? You seem to be a reasonable and trustworthy observer.

Thank you

 
At 10:12 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

You should have no trouble trekking or visiting the annapurna region during March. At present, Maoists are only asking for donations along the circuit. If you are a yank, this can get at high as 8000 rupees. You should get a receipt from the Maoists as well.

There are a lot of phony Maoists extorting money along the trail. A good rule of thumb is: No gun, no money.

If you need more specific information about this region, or need someone to handle arrangements for you, give me an e-mail at blogdai@nepalimail.com

-=blogdai

 
At 10:18 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Dead on, Shiva!

From blogdai's point of view, no large-scale hydro plant should be in place in Nepal.

The Kali-Gandaki, Arun, and Melamchi fiascos of the past should have taught us all a lession.

For blogdai's money, the best way to bring wattage to the rural masses is with smaller, in-line, mini-hydro plants. Next time any of you are up in the Everest region, take a look at that mini-plant the Austrians built in Thame. Speak to blogdai's buddy, Tsering Sherpa who works there and he'll tell you that Namche bazaar can now have 24-hour power because of this plant.

The big plants were desined to make money by selling power to India, period. In the case of Melamchi, as soon as the foreign investors realized that infrastructure and logistics problems reduced their profit potential to zero, they walked away.

-=blogdai

 
At 11:10 AM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous Vladimir said...

Vladimir's eyes are burning because his laptop's screen is f****** dim, so he'd like to sound three cheers to the lord Shiva for naming the reasons as to his screen being dim.

As for Blogdai's previous comment, I beg to disagree. Big size, small size, or whatever size they come in, hydropower projects should be developed, as long as they're not seriously detrimental to the environment. Hey, as long as we can make even one paise of profit of the bloody Indians, we should do it.

 
At 11:37 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Yep, that's the problem. Maybe its the problem with all large dam projects: People get displaced or not adequately compensated for their land and then they get pissed and form an activist group. plus, the environment both above and below the damn are altered forever.

Big footprint=big problems.

-=blogdai

 
At 3:36 AM, March 09, 2006, Anonymous Brit said...

I tend to agree with Blogdai about the size of hydro-installations.

A large project gives a lot of (economic)power to a small group - and we know how that can be corrupted! I reckon what Nepal needs most is power-sharing - economic and political as well as electrical. Many small generators would give more stability as they are much less likely to be at risk of control from adverse forces be they economic, political or even geographical! Remember Nepal is subject to earthquakes. The effect of large earth movement on a mega-dam is appalling to contemplate.

 
At 6:44 PM, March 09, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes, but having now said that, I can say that Nepal would not be in the crisis it is in today if she were more financially independent.

a properly regulated, nepali-controlled hydro system desigined for the sale of power to india is, in blogdai's less-than-expert-opinion, Nepal's ticket to true sovereignty.

Ask ourselves, what is the single, most valuable commodity that Nepal produces that is both highly marketable to its neighbors, and is purely dependent on resources somewhat unique to the region? Hydropower.

I say, listen to Naag, shame the license holders, publish their names here and get rid of the bastards.

FOR A TREAT: blogdai will contact one Deborah Moore, former commissioner for the World Council of Dams, and an avid World Bank basher, for her comments on this important issue.

We welcome Shiva as a regular contributor and, as you can see, he has opened his part of the show with a bang! Bravo!

-=blogdai

 
At 8:55 PM, March 09, 2006, Anonymous Shiva said...

Hello everyone. Thanks for all the interest shown. I agree with Naagboy on publicizing the names of the license holders. I'll try to use my limited contacts to find out more. If there is anyone out there with some information, please provide it here.

As for the debate on large dams and large hydropower projects, I must say that big compromises must always be made, and in doing so, there will always be two sides at war. I think most of the environmental and social issues can be addressed. Instead of advocating totally against building such projects, I think environmentalists and social activists should rather focus on ensuring that the project addresses such issues appropriately- that is, to the best possible extent, keeping in mind the economics and the ultimate costs to consumers-which basically means that a lot has to be given up.

I have always believed that the humble lifestyle of our villagers and those of other "traditional" societies, may it be the hunter/gatherers of the Amazon, or the nomads of the Ethiopian highlands-is the ultimate form of coexistence between man and nature.

However, everything boils down to this: 99% of the people on this earth want the glorious city lifestyle with all its gadgets and ostentation.

I worked in a region in Nepal, which was 7 days walk from the nearest roadhead, and it was spending time with the people there that I realized that even in the most obscure nooks and corners of the earth-the people all aspire for those things.

It was a saddening experience, but at the same time it also made me realize that, perhaps it was me, who was walking with a selfish desire- a desire to see these "traditional lifestyles" intact, so that I could take some time off and go to these people and take pictures of them and come back and show them to the world...

Brit, your concern about large dams in the context of our vulnerable earthquake prone geology is more genuine. But I think the risks can be minimized with better engineering, and more investment. Keep in mind that our rivers cause extensive flood damage downstream every year, and this will most likely intensify in the future as population increases and more and more people encroach the river's natural paths. Building a high dam to regulate the flow will definitely provide relief to downstream inhabitants. Perhaps building a series of dams, with less and less capacity as one proceeds downstream would mitigate the risks. This way, if the uppermost dam breaks, the water would be held by the lower dams in succession, thereby containing all or most of the water before entering the flood plains downstream. With enough money, a lot of precautions can be made, but that's always been the problem. Not accounting for the environmental and social costs in the cost-benefit analysis, which determines the ultimate investment, and the consequent "quality."

 
At 2:37 AM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Brit said...

I like the series of dams idea - I think that was where I was heading. My concern is also for providing electrical power to each remote community - what is needed is a wide network of many hydro installments - large(-ish) and small - start with the small local plants then connect them for back-up.

I take Blogdai's point about foreign currency but I don't entirely agree that water is your most valuable asset. I say that because it's realisation is so dependent on best possible quality engineering (because of the nature of your terrain) and stable control (not Nepal's current best attribute). I have no doubt you can do it, but you first must stabilise your country's infrastructure. It will also be important that the benefit reaches all Nepalis - yes, they want 21st century 'gadgets' etc. - if they are available countrywide the lure of the cities might not be quite so great.

In my view your current greatest assets are your people, your great and varied cultural heritage and the beauty of your country. Tourism could be developed much more. It will be important (for many reasons) to see that your existing cultural heritage is not lost but this does not mean that modern cultural development need be curtailed - just that memories and skills are preserved. It should be possible to have both. In Western Europe we have lost a great deal of our cultural heritage and the great bulk of the population has been relatively deskilled. Nepal still has so much - and it has great intrinsic value.

 
At 10:45 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brit
You are right. My people, my great and varied cultural heritage and the beauty of my country are my greatest assets. Well that’s the only thing we can be proud of. That’s the only thing we have to sell. There is nothing else to Nepal. You can enjoy Nepal as you want to. While the whole world enjoys Nepal, Nepalese surrender their joy to the world. Use it as you want to. Nothing personal. Just telling the truth as I think it to be.

Not your fault though. My fault more so. Me and my fellow Nepalese. Though we try not to accept it. And we do try very hard. Infact we can prove we tried so hard enough that you can get a new meaning to having tried. We do believe we tried to make Nepal for ourselves and not for you tourists. Doesn’t make sense. No problem. Well. Enough of that.

About the dams you are talking about. Its long time we forgot about social and environmental effects of the dam. They are secondary stuff. First thing is money. If that gets us money, do it. Its true that noble classes think about manners and what other people think. I think its high time Nepal thought about itself and not about what the rest of the world thinks about us. Yeah, I am pro royalist. At least Marich Man knew not to bend to foreign powers if no one else.

Again. If you foreigners want to see the beauty of the world, protect it. Its there as long as its there. If its not there, well even your money cant help it. Can it now? Again nothing personal. And try not to reproduce so much. Please.

Life is short. Make the best of it. Good luck.
g again.

 
At 4:21 AM, March 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Richard III was King of England his land was divided into powerful 'noblemen' who controlled large swathes of the country. They were wealthy, powerful and controlled their land as Kings themselves. When the Battle of Bosworth was won and lost, Henry VII ascended throne and he proceeded to take away these 'noble mens' power and reinvest it into the state. On his death, Henry VII was unpopular because he was rapacious and he had strengthened the power of the state through targetted taxation, reducing the number of all powerful lords and waging fewer wars than his predecessors. He left his son, Henry VIII with the money, the power and the political capital to continue the Tudor dynsty in strength.

Are there any parralels here?

 
At 8:16 AM, March 13, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Nice!

It begs the question: Which group is the most rabid in their condemnation of G's actions? Forget westerners and HR groups, they have their own agendas. It is those who stand to lose the most by a fully representative system.

Deuba was literally begged by G. to hold elections and did not. G. holds out an olive branch for talks and the parties refuse without so much as a valid comment for justification.

Consider an actual path towards democracy. I hesitate to use Iraq as an example but a current, noteworthy suggestion has emerged there. There are plans for an all-inclusive closed-door meeting where everything and every issue will be on the table. THis meeting is to be held in Baghdad and will include Shiite, Sunni, militant and peace-lover alike. It could degenerate into chaos, sure, but WHAT a brilliant concept. At least sit down and find out where the disagreements lie and what, if any, common ground exists.

Now, why is that impossible for Nepal? Because the parties and the Maoists refuse to move past their individual agendas. THey do not want any type of compromise that jeopardizes their sense of power and control. Too bad, democracy hinges on compromise. To be truly democratic, one has to be willing to take a position that is often unfavorable in order to achieve the greater good of all.

I know who Henry VIII would be in Nepal; blogdai's only hope would be that princess Himani avoids Marie Antoinette's fate!

-=blogdai

 
At 4:06 PM, March 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai,

So by the same token, who are the people most ferociously defending Gyane's regime? Thapa, Rana, Shah, Pandey? Do they represent the common Nepalis who are victimized the war? Hell no!

They represent the aristocratic class who will lose the most if Gyane were to fall. They are either ex-army brass, morally bankrupt ex-panchayat leaders, or Gyane's relatives, who need to be in King's shadows to be where they are in nepali society.

I do not believe Gyane's sincerity in calling parties for dialogue. He is just mentioning dialogue in his speech to appease criticisms from the international community. He includes the sweetener in his speech and the very same day he imprisons political party leaders and the next week his deputy tells media that there will be no compromise. Now, if someone asks you for a compromise and then kicks your friend on his face the same day, would you trust that person?

If he is really serious about dialogue, he should make an agenda, become flexible, make his flexibility public, release all the political leaders, and then pick up the phone and call the political parites for a dialogue. Including two lines about dialogue in a speech does not mean anything to me.

In this situation, Gyane should be calling the political parties for a dialogue and not vice versa because Gyane is the one who kicked them, jailed them, and threw them on the street. He is the one who took this discourse from the constitution and so it is his responsibility to bring it back. Not only me, even the US, UK, and everyone is saying the same thing.

If not, Gyane will be to blamed for all the mess.

 
At 5:49 PM, March 13, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

And what gestures, hollow or not have the 7-parties made towards the King? G cannot give away the farm without so much as a hint of cooperation from the other side can he? Peace will only work when everybody talks. Who are the spoiled brats refusing to talk these days?

My friend, your bias is showing and it is clear that, no matter the outcome, this is your witch hunt. You'll blame G no matter what happens.

g's invitation of talks to the parties was an adequate, measured gesture. If your political boys have even a hint of understanding of the democratic process, they would have responded with an equally measured gesture. But NO. All we hear is the same tired old plans for new protests.

Panchayat, Rana or whatever, Nepal will never return to the repressive days of old. Get it out of your one-dimensional skull. Under the Ranas, would even this mild gesture towards the opposition have been possible? You see fault and corruption everywhere because your mind is stuck in another era and, most probably your vested interests are with the parties.

As if on cue, you say the King has no agenda at precisely the time he announces one. The Maoist amnesty program is the most wide sweeping in Nepal's history. It was expanded from the old arms buy-back scheme of a few years back.

http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2006/mar/mar13/news10.php

I know this goes against your inflexible mind-set, but G. cannot and will not make this program fraudulent. Too many people are watching. Nepal can no longer just hide its agenda under a cloak of secrecy a-la the Panchayat and Rana eras.

Wake up, have a shot of Rakshi and watch and learn: Nepal is a member of the world community and there's no escaping it.

-=blogdai

 
At 6:31 PM, March 14, 2006, Anonymous g said...

Crazy!!!!

Me and you and the dog named boo
After the same old bone


When people have a mind set or when people have set their mind……don’t try to change it. Its not only hard but impossible to do it. Ignorance was a bliss…hundreds of years ago. Ignorance is a bliss now. Will be hundred years from now.


BUT. That’s a big but. Only if ignorance is left alone.

I am ignorant. I don’t give a damn about who does what as long as it does not affect me. Not in the short run atleast. I am not absolutely selfish and I am proud of that. Well I am selfish to some extent. So what?

In return, I try to do things that will not badly impact others. If you cant live and let live, I think it is much much better to live and let die. As long as you don’t help them die.

If it sounds shit to you it probably is. Don’t worry about what I wrote b4.


blogdai , why is my comment earlier not deleted yet? Should be. It is out of context and stupid.

I’’ll try to be a little intelligent now. I thought someone was going to publish the names of license holders. Well………


Easier than that, show how much those ministers from DEMOCRACY made during THE DEMOCRATIC rule in NEPAL. Who cares if its not accurate. Atleast we can look at it and swear…….YEAH F*** THEM. We could pour our anger, even if it is on the INTERNET. Better than nothing. Psychologically too, it will extend ones life by a few hours.

(B,b)logdai, shiva, naagboy……….come out with something concrete. Words are tiring unless you yourself are writing it. I can write 110 pages right now. So what?

Anybody else OUT THERE??? Give something for me to curse on.

Its hardly about changing Nepal for me. Its about being able to curse at those who destroyed my country.

GUYS!! Change the meaning of blogdai. Its been controversial truth till now. Lets bring the TRUTH now. OUT IN THE FREE BLOGDAI!!! Sorry its not free Nepal.

And don’t give a damn about those fools who try to find everything wrong in everything. You eat too much sugar that gets bitter. You eat a lot of bitter that gets sweet. Or atleast tasteless. TRY IT SUCKERS. WE HAVE!!!

Shivas article was good. A point, arrow towards truth. Lets follow it. Bring the TRUTH out. For all of us. for a start, bring out those license holders name.

talking about revolution!! yeah right.

god bless the whole world and give them lot of nonsense, coz with the sense they had, they are about to destroy it. Unless ofcourse god is a fool too, like us.
--g again

 
At 6:52 PM, March 14, 2006, Anonymous g said...

Did I say GUYS there somewhere? Well, I guess I meant it. There are men who act like women. Like me. I am not talking about men like us.


There are women who act like men. STRONG. That’s what I am talking about.

GUYS include all those men and women who act like men. these 'GUYS' represent wisdom, thought, love , emotion and BELIEF. PLEASE don’t discuss on this stuff.

--g

 
At 6:21 AM, March 15, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

g you've earned the right to make a goofy comment from time to time; more power to you.

Believe it or not Shiva and I ARE working on the names of those license holders.

You are right, bring out the issues and let's name names. Ministerial corruption and hubris, royal shenanigans, police idiocy anyone?

-=blogdai

 
At 3:21 PM, March 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can not wait to see the list of the people who have licenses.

It will be a great starting point for this blogdai. I hope that you can get a few and then get the entire list. Sheer speculation but i wonder how many of them are from political families associated with Congress, UML etc? It would amuse me immensely if Prachanda happened to have a license!!! On a serious note, if it were my decision I would probably focus upon the biggest names and then go and ask them what they are going to do with their license. If you can get a story, i am sure some newpapers and media will be interested in it.

I am glad the Richard III analogy appealed to you. It is striking how similar Nepali politicians are to the Lords of England in the 15th century!!!

Love the blog but not enough time to contribute regularly. I think the regulars are really useful contributers -especially 'g' with his philosophical musings. Good article Shiva, keep it up!

Night every one.

 
At 4:08 PM, March 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Straight to the point. This kind of stuff should be freely available and accessible in the public domain. Also who authorised the licenses? I guess computerisation helps in this regard.

Looks like our intrepid reporters at Kantipur are hot on the heels of the chief of the CIAA for some monkey business. Not sure how significant this is. If it's true then I commend them and this is the kind of stuff they should be doing in the public interest. Not sponsered propoganda of any sort.

Or then again it could be a witch hunt. There seems to be some long standing feud going on between the CIAA and the press.


Transparency and accountability, that's what it's all about..

naagboy

 
At 1:41 AM, March 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naag,

"Transparency and accountability, that's what it's all about.."

There is so much irony in that statement that i had to raise a smile when reading it.

I agree that the Nepali government must continuously improve itself so that it becomes more transparent and accountable because corruption is never a good. Yet corruption does not in itself prohibit economic development. There are different forms of corruption that can have a positive or negative impact upon governance, economic policy and development.

The problem as i see it is not that there is corruption per se but that the corrupt politicians are lazy when it comes to operating the machinary of government. They are far more interested in power rather than the exercise of power. The ownership of licences is an example of this.

Corruption does not prevent economic development. Empirical studies by the World Bank and other international organisations show that there is no direct link between the two. There is even an argument that the corrupt actually reinvest the money they have stolen back into the economy by starting businesses and other enterprises. I don't condone corruption or stealing from the public funds but you have to understand that this should not just be viewed as an ethical issue.

Politics should never be judged ethically -particularly from a western point of view. My biggest problem with the corrupt in Nepal is that they procrastinate in their power and do not work hard. Once they have attained their wealth that is enough for them.

If Deuba, Nepal and Koirala actively addressed the real issues in Nepal then they would still be in power. If only they had run Nepal with the same energy, determination and graft that they now show on the streets of Kathmandu. Maybe things would have been different had they done so.

I would not mind so much if corrupt politicians ran Nepal so long as they do actually run Nepal. A ship without a crew is far worse than a ship with a badly organised crew.

Richard III

 
At 1:12 PM, March 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very informative article Shiva, thanks! Good Morning America broadcasted a video about emerging Indian economy -comparatively, Nepal lags far behind. Not that Nepal doesn't have smart and hardworking people, or able leadership, but somehow, there seems no buyable solution out of the mess we've fallen into. I haven't seen another dam being built or another project being carried out in the past 2/3 yrs. How do you think its possible to get these people to focus their attention back to development? I mean, they'd get more public support if any of these political parties et al campaigned for development rather than asking support for what is now a hackneyed word 'peace'. Don't you think?

 
At 4:05 PM, March 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai and Shiva,

How come you guys still did not come up with a list of psuedo investors who are sitting on the license for hydro electric projects? Is it because your investigation unearthed the truth - companies with royal or royal relative's interest and a couple of present council of ministers are sitting on some of the licenses.

 
At 8:20 PM, March 18, 2006, Anonymous shiva said...

anon 4:05 pm, you misunderstand us and you judge too quickly like all the Nepalese press and partymen. I would also like to say this--patience is something that Nepalese seem to have lost. Everyone wants something immediately without analyzing the issues in detail. Evaluations are made before any concrete evidences are even possible and judgements based on these hollow analyses. But when someone with a Dr. in front of their name, or ...expert says it, it is taken as an absolute fact, without any analysis of the statement.

Your namelist will be posted here. But it takes time to dig up the names of people of the companies that have been given the licenses. More often than not, the principal nameholder/shareholder is not the one whose name is attached to the company/firm. So to dig up the truth it will take time. Have patience, you will have the names.

 
At 9:08 PM, March 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes more on this subject, water and electricity are important to Nepal.
Getting to the bottom of this, the best way to end corruption and mismanagement will be through the solution of citizens'problems.

 
At 5:30 AM, March 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

US investors pull out of Nepal energy project

Kathmandu, March 28 : Two American investors have pulled out of a hydropower project in Nepal after the government failed to clear its dues, mounting to $5.3 million, for nearly five years. Panda Global Holdings, a Dallas-based energy company, and MCNIC, owned by DTE Energy, exited from the Bhote Koshi power project in northern Nepal after a bitter five-year dispute with the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) that even caused the US government to intervene through its embassy in Kathmandu. Constructed with an initial investment of $98 million, the plant, located about 110 km northeast of Kathmandu and capable of generating 36 MW during monsoon, began generating power from January 2001.

It was owned by the Bhote Koshi Power Company (BKPC) in which Panda Nepal, a joint venture between Panda Global and MCNIC, held the majority share of 75 percent. The newly floated Nepali company Himal International Enery Pvt Ltd owned 10 percent, the International Finance Corporation had 10 percent while another American firm Harzah held the remaining five percent. However, the NEA has failed to pay the energy firm's dues since May 2001, causing BKPC's shareholders an annual loss of eight to 10 percent of the annual revenue, BKPC officials told IANS.

Due to the escalating Maoist insurgency in Nepal and the deteriorating political situation after King Gyanendra seized power through a coup last year, Panda Nepal was also finding it increasingly difficult to get insurers. "We worked with insurance companies in Nepal as well as Europe and they were getting hesitant about renewals because of the risk," John Zamlen, authorised representative of Panda and MCNIC, said. The two foreign partners decided to pull out of the project and began negotiations with Himal, which has bought their shares at a face value of $22 million.

"It's a sad exit," Zamlen said. "The exit negotiations went on for two years." The deal was to come through last year but was delayed because of the change in government and bureaucratic red tape. Eventually, the transaction was completed Friday. Now Himal, in addition to holding 85 percent of the stakes, has also inherited the $5.3 million dues owed by the NEA.

"We have been following it up," said Sujeev Shakya, new president of the power company. "It is a legitimate claim and being a Nepali company, we should be able to recover the money." The case is bound to send bad vibes to foreign investors, being desperately wooed by Gyanendra's government that in an unprecedented move this year created a unit under the foreign minister. Besides ignoring agreements, government departments in Nepal have also been running campaigns against foreign investors in the Nepali media.

The Bhote Koshi project also came for a good deal of bad press, which compelled Todd W. Carter, president of Panda Energy International, to write back. "Tantamount to any lender's ability to loan money for international construction is the sanctity of the contract in the host country," Carter wrote. "International lenders will not find projects in jurisdictions where the contracts upon which a financing is based, are not honoured. Unfortunately, NEA has not honored the terms and provisions of the power purchase agreement by withholding payments for energy produced and delivered under that contract. "The failure of NEA to fulfill its obligations go far beyond the BKPC and the facility, as the fixture willingness of international investors and lenders to make significant commitments to Nepal may be adversely affected. That result is not desirable for NEA, the people of Nepal, nor BKPC."

 

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