Despite Nepal's huge potential to
export hydro-power, the country is yet to produce enough
Energy Policy: National and
Editors: Sridhar K. Khatri and Hari Uprety
Published Date: September 20, 2002
Published by: Nepal Foundation for Advanced
Studies (NEFAS) and Coalition for Action on South
Asian Cooperation (CASAC) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung,
Price: Not mentioned, Pages:
By KESHAB POUDEL
With the countries of South Asia step-ping
up their efforts to accelerate economic growth, they need
a more reliable supply of power. Nepal needs more energy
to make up for lost time and to meet its long-term development
aspirations. Despite the region's impressive power potentials,
how-ever, it has been able to exploit only a frac-tion
largely because of political and other petty issues.
Although the countries of the region
share similarities in culture, religion, lan-guage and
other aspects of life, they have yet to come closer in
dealing with common issues of sharing energy. Because
of petty issues, often bundled together as national interest,
opportunities have been restricted. Everything is possible
at one moment; noth-ing is the next. The long list of
discontent and differences among South Asian nations has
taken over their cultural and religious simi-larities.
Over the last five decades, many coun-tries
have transformed their economies through regional cooperation.
Given South Asia's failure to come to a basic understand-ing,
the promise of collective self-reliance in water resources
risks remaining a dream.
There are wide differences in the na-tional
level on exploiting water resources for the benefit of
the region. Nepal, for instance, has signed several bilateral
agreements with India to harness its rivers, but anger
and criticism have almost instantly pervaded the debate.
"However, considering how this
pre-cious commodity has been loosely negoti-ated in the
past, it was forcefully pointed out that our water deals
so far have repeatedly proved to be more rhetoric than
substance. This is probably why the story of our past
water negotiations have been heavily criti-cized on grounds
of being one sided, con-trary to international conventions
and against the national interest," writes Ananda
P. Shrestha, executive director of Nepal Foun-dation for
Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in his preface.
In his paper "Electric Power Trading
in the SAARC Region: Prospect and Prob-lems," Santa
B. Pun discusses the whole gamut of the energy situation
as well as bitter experiences in sharing electric power
among the member countries. Pun also analyzes the pattern
of sources of energy in the region. For instance, Nepal
and Sri Lanka depend on the hydropower, whereas India,
Pakistan and Bangladesh have a predominantly thermal source.
The Maldives does not have any re-sources.
"With over 1.2 billion people,
one fifth of the world's population, living in the SAARC
region and with 35 percent of these people forced to live
well below the poverty line, regional cooperation is impera-tive
if we are to im-prove the quality of life of the people
of this region," writes Pun.
Binayak Bhadra's paper, "Hy-dro-energy
for Na-tional development" highlights the effec-tiveness
of small and medium power plants for cheap energy supply.
In "Energy As a Security Issue: A Nepalese Perspective."
Han Man Shrestha stresses the need to get more benefits
for the country in bilateral agreement. Kamal Rijal's
"Role of Nepalese Water Resources for Meeting Energy
Needs in South Asia" highlights the importance of
hydropower in regional development.
All South Asian countries have their
own resources to generate energy, but these alone are
not adequate. For instance, India needs huge energy to
sustain its economic growth rate of over 6 percent. As
the cheap-est and easily available energy source, there
is a need to develop a well-accepted strategy to exploit
water resources for the greater benefits of the region.
The book, based on articles presented
at a seminar, deals with various constraints and technical
capabilities of Nepal. Organized by the Coalition for
Action on South Asian Cooperation and NEFAS with (lie
coopera-tion of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung experts discuss
the pragmatic use of Nepal's vast water resources.
The discussions were primarily focused
on hydro energy for national development, electric power
trading in the SAARC region, role of Nepalese water resources
for meeting energy needs in South Asia. economic flows
from highland to lowland, and energy as a security issue.
The result: a handy volume on promise and predicaments
of regional coop-eration in energy.
Source: Spotlight (13-19 December)