Dr. Shastra Dutta Pant
Water Resource Expert, Nepal
1950 treaty set the ball rolling on this path during the 20th century in favor of India. There are points in favor of Nepal which remain silent and inactive. Starting from Koshi, Gandaki and Mahakali Treaties, prove that the party leaders are no more than the puppets of the aliens. One thing is common in all these treaties and agreements-ensuring fresh water for India. Nepal is cheated by India on those three agreements on the water resources of Nepal. Now in the name of the liberal economy of the rich country India has come to Nepal through the help of European, Australian and the American capitalists in the state of neo-colonists’.
The politician need to study the Columbia Treaty under which Canada is compensated for losing alternative use of the land inundated. The compensation is also for augmented flow in the dry season from USA. Besides there is the power benefit shares between the two countries for constructing the reservoir project. Nepal must insist on using this treaty as a precedent in getting recompense for land mass lost. It also must incorporate the value of environment degradation, submergences, loss of forest resources, wild life, existing infrastructure in the case of West Seti project, Kankai high dam and similar other projects including Indra Sarovar.
Nepal is ceding its rights on waters becomes apparent with some difficulty. However, the run of the river projects like Upper Karnali and Arun-Ill do not generate augmented flow and apparently seems no water related issues are involved. Those having thorough knowledge will clearly understand that water issue is involved even in these projects. Section 20 of Electricity Regulation, 1993 guarantees “Right on Water Resources.” The section says - “The licensee, who has obtained license for production of electricity, shall have the right to use the water resources for the works as mentioned in the license to the extent of such place and quantity as specified in the license.” As per this section someone possessing a license to a specific site is guaranteed that no consumptive use of water will be undertaken in the upstream areas of the project as is stated in the Gandak project agreement. It is no more than tying of both hands himself. By getting various “investors” to secure licenses to sites in Nepal, India has succeeded in ensuring that Nepal is forced to refrain from using the water for consumptive uses. In this way the downstream flow to the Ganges is successfully secured with the issuance of each license. Similarly, at the same water, India has taken rights from Bangladesh and Pakistan as upper stream flow to the Ganges/Sind is successfully secured. Nepal even misses an opportunity to use such water to irrigate its arable land. The Ganges receives 41% of its flow from Nepal in the wet season and 75% in the dry season.
Learning from Bitter Experiences:
Kaligandaki-A has a bitter experience. The Middle Marshyangdi at the public sector and the Khimti, for example, at the private sector have the bitterest experiences. Delays by four years doubled the cost of the Middle Marshyangdi. We need to learn that the each year delay adds a 25 % of its cost. Therefore all projects must run nonstop round the clock in three shifts without any hurdles as suggested in the national main policy.
Meeting the Demands First:
The peak demand was 720 MW. The industrial corridors in and around Kathmandu Pokhara, Dang, Surkhet Valleys, Butwal-Bhairahawa, Parwanipur-Birgunj Duhabi Biratnagar and elsewhere are starving for energy for the existing industries. Sooner the cheaper and easily available power and water facilities are given, new industries will be established rapidly. These corridors could use over 200 MW each. The establishment of new industries and expansion of the existing industries is constrained due to lack of electricity. On the other side, first of all the government must displace cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene for which Nepal needs over 1000 MW at the beginning. Half of which will be consumed in Kathmandu valley alone. By the time the West Seti, Karnali and Arun-3 projects get commissioned, Nepal’s own demand will exceed 25,00-3000 MW. Nepal must be self-reliant in the matter of energy for transportation as well and reducing import of petrol. If Nepal is to proceed to a developed nation, electric run transportation system, i.e. electric train, trolley bus, cable car, hybrid cars, is a must. During that period the demand of electricity will be much higher. Therefore, it makes no sense for Nepal to endeavor to export electricity and invite alien government and private sectors when Nepal itself doesn’t have enough electricity. It is high time to go on producing hydropower projects by Nepal itself and make it easily available and cheaper compared to neighbors.
First Consider the Life of the Project:
The Kulekhani reservoir, the only peak hour runoff project, is not river based. The storage of this reservoir is reduced by 25% of its original capacity in 25 years that is 1 percent a year. The west Seti River carries high silt load (which) will be transformed into a run-of-the-river project in 30 years. During that time the project will be handed over to Nepal. The project’s dam will have to be decommissioned. The government of Nepal will be forced to spend money for this project again. When the so called leaders of Nepal are thinking of enjoying electricity free of cost by that time Nepal will be forced to auction. For decommissioning of which will be costlier than the original project cost. If so, why not to construct such projects by the government itself right from the beginning?
Do not cut your hand yourself:
Another myth regarding electricity that has dominated the public mind in Nepal is that water agreements have to be done in hot haste otherwise Bhutan will capture the Indian power market, or that India will develop nuclear power and will have no need for Nepali hydropower. It must be realized that Bhutan has no Tarai to irrigate, nor is the adjacent riparian territory in India highly thirsty for water. The UP and Bihar both are highly water and power scarce areas. Nepal is situated as the upstream of large swathes of these states. After four or five decades, India will need storage dams in Nepal for water alone. Even if there were no electricity involved. Nepali hydroelectricity can only be a very valuable by-product for them. These facts have been proven by the state agencies and the socio-environmental activists. Electricity from Nepali storage dams is more valuable than their local thermal or coal electricity power plants. The coal deposit is almost finishing in India. The peak hour power and systemic irrigation is of high importance for them. Therefore, Nepal must not lose its sovereign rights over its natural fresh water resources by any mean.
Develop planned settlements:
Over three fourth of the people of Nepal reside in the rugged, remote and scattered settlements. Support for new technologies is crucial for transforming the lives of the rural communities. The access to electricity allows children to study at night, reduces the burden on rural women; fuel collection time is saved; immense health costs such as respiratory and eye diseases from indoor wood smoke pollution is also reduced.
Implementing the one window policy, the holistic development concept, preventing haphazard promulgation of policy/fiscal directives, enforcing time bound decisions on matters related to licensing are some examples for immediate reform.
For smooth and quick development and delivering of the services in equal amount and quality a planned settlement scheme is a must. The scattered small villages should be consolidated under various planned settlement schemes.
After suspending the unplanned development expenses the northern remote rocky belt about 23 percent of the total area should be kept away from human habitation and set aside for herbal and horticultural development, wild life reserve, tourist resorts, trekking and sport facilities. The present settlement up to 66-degree slope must be controlled by an act reducing to 40 degree. And this area must be restricted for seasonal cropping and kept for forest or tree based fruit cultivation.
A land use map should be drawn up and use projecting Chakala bandi farmland to promote intensive and block farming. Then a new set up of politico administration of local level organization should be reorganized so as to facilitate implementation of decentralization schemes by mobilizing manpower and other local resources. It is only through materialization of well-planned decentralization scheme that only can provide equal opportunity of full employment to all, equal access of quality education without any discrimination of gender, cast, ethnicity religion and so on; equal opportunity of the services (e.g. electricity, communications, transportation, human and animal health, banking facilities etc.) to be provided by the state. Then plans can be well stabilized and corruptions be rooted out permanently.
Inside Himalaya National Park:
Nepal can also benefit from the melting water of the Himalayas, a perennial source of hydropower in Nepal. Nepal should work for investment in hydro projects that have capacity to be reserved. The other alternative energy sources such as solar, bio-gas and CDM (clean development mechanism) projects should also be enforced. However, regarding the detail of Himalayan National Park, I would like to request to go through on my book on Tourism called ‘Himali National Park and tourism development’.
Party Politics and Hydro Power Utilization:
The parties have leveraged every agenda from republicanism to nationalism, ethnic determination to gender-based politics, federalism to human rights and similar situation catch agenda depending on time and situation. When examined over a continuum, the contradictions and hollow cast inherent everywhere are proving that none of the parties have a clear and genuine vision. They have only one vision as how to grab power and money out of nation’s natural resources. They really have managed to keep the Nepali public focused on peripheral issues and their political opponents guessing and in disarray. They also have used civil society and the INGO community as stepping stones on their path to power. Politically speaking, there is nothing wrong with the manner in which they have campaigned - they have operated under the same constraints as their political rivals. However, there is slight difference between the parties the subtle threat of violence to false assurances. Whether through the PLA, the YCL, or through their unions, the Maoists have always retained a credible (and demonstrated) penchant for the application of force.
Meanwhile, Nepal’s liberal elite (domestically and abroad), have continued to focus on the more progressive aspects of the Maoist agenda while turning a blind eye to the not-so- progressive, power plays that actually enable the Maoists as a force to reckon with. The height of hypocrisy has been so- called civil society leaders expressing fear for their lives in private and then praising in public. They are using the human rights lobby to neutralize their inhuman activities. Unless the parities do agree to work under a full agreed National main policy and run the country under objective based ‘system run’ administration, nation can never progress. The poor will have no chance to progress economically and educationally. For, in the present situation they are unaware because they are poor and they are poor because they are unaware.
Before implementing any project preparation of land use map, nationwide planned & consolidated settlement, reorganization of political division, new set up of administration, land reform: a productive phase (the present is not land reform but land ceiling only) and human resource mobilization accurately under sustainable and long term planning strategy is a must without which would be the waste of money as the pouring of water over sand.
This situation can be ended when only the
Vyvasthit Vasti Model (planned settlement) of development is applied mainly in the developing nations.
Nepal’s Army and Police’s welfare funds, the NEA, NRN, public enterprises, and banks, other financial institutions & individuals can collectively run projects such as the ongoing upper Tamakosi Project. All that is required is a strong commitment to Nepal’s development and proper coordination and management of activities.
Finally, a land use map should be drawn up and the land should be consolidated (Chakala bandi) promoting farming activities. The scattered small villages should also be consolidated under planned settlement schemes. A planned and consolidated nationwide settlement solves all the existing problems. It includes reorganization of political divisions, new administrative procedures, a genuine land reform and mobilization of human resources in scientific way. Moreover, it is suggested that the northern remote rocky belt of the country should not be exploited and instead be put aside for horticultural development and be established as a wild life reserve. The present settlement up to 66-degree slope must be reduced to 40 degrees and be restricted to seasonal cropping.
A re-organization of political-administrative procedures should also take place so as to facilitate the implementation of decentralization schemes through the mobilization of manpower and other local resources. Decentralization schemes are vital for tackling unemployment, promoting equal access to quality education and services including electricity, communications and transportation. These schemes would also be conducive to root out corruption.Thanks the author: Ed.