New load-shedding schedule raises suspicion over state power utility’s motive

New load-shedding schedule raises suspicion over state power utility’s motive

On one hand Nepal is losing Rs 220.54 billion – that could construct one megawatt (MW) of hydropower – every day on an average due to crime, corruption and tax evasion and on the other, the country is reeling under nine hours of power outage from today due to government's apathy towards checking corruption and mismanagement in the state power utility, and policy dilemma in hydropower development. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has increased daily power outage to nine hours from today, from the earlier from six hours, making people's lives more difficult for 63 hours in a week. The NEA has brought a new schedule of power outage for three times a day that would not only hurt businesses and industries forcing them to depend heavily on expensive imported petroleum products to run generator sets or inverters but also raises doubts on state power utility's officials' motive. As the state power monopoly has enforced load-shedding in three shifts, morning, day and night, the new power outage schedule effective from today calls for an investigation from the anti-graft body, said an entrepreneur without wanting to be named. "The new three-hour schedule will help increase sale of inverters and generators as it is the most unpractical schedule," he said, adding that the move smells heavy corruption in the NEA that is already in loss. Earlier too, the NEA officials have been – influenced by the generator sets and inverter importers – increased load-shedding hours without necessary. The new schedule will also increase import of petroleum products. The country had imported Rs 37.16 billion of petroleum products in the first four months of the current fiscal year 2013-14. The import of petroleum products has seen increment in last couple of years in line with the increased load-shedding hours and with increased power outage hours, operational expenses of the industries and businesses have also increased making the products and services more dearer. The load-shedding in the winter season will see gradually increase and reaches up to 12 hours a day due to shortfall of electricity "but the current three-hour schedule is suspicious," the entrepreneur added. The power generation at present stands at 700 MW but the demand has reached above 1,250 MW making it a shortfall of about 450 MW. But the political parities have made the hydropower a political issues rather than a commodity pushing the country to more darker days and hurting the economic growth too.
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