The Upper Tamakoshi Hydro Project (UTHP) has finally been initiated amidst much fanfare and high hopes with its foundation stone being laid. As we witness protracted periods of power outages, the UTHP provides a glimmer of hope that the country will be able to reduce, if not eliminate, load shedding that is causing much inconvenience to the general public besides affecting the industries adversely, many of which had to produce below capacity or simply fold up. What is unique about this mega project is that it is being financed entirely through the investment of the Nepali institutions. Those financing the project to the tune of Rs. 35.29 billion include the government, Civil Investment Fund, Rastriya Beema Sansthan and Nepal Telecom. Incidentally, although the foundation stone of the project was to be laid on January 27, it could not happen because of the resistance put up by the Maoists. This had delayed the project which is expected to produce 456 MW of electricity once it is completed. This augurs well for the country in that the project is slated to be completed by 2015 when the domestic demand for electricity would reach a staggering 1400 MW, according to estimates. The demand for electricity now in the dry season at present is 950 MW, while the installed capacity is a mere 702 MW. That is enough to show the dismal status of the country in the power production sector.
It is alleged that many big projects do not materialize because of the pre-conditions put by the donor countries, or because of protests. But, UTHP’s initiation shows that the Nepalese too are capable of undertaking such mega projects. If everything goes well as planned, the completion of the project on time would benefit the people of Dolakha also in various ways. This would serve as a catalyst for development of the area and enhance the standard of living of the local people. Apprehensions exist that obstacles would be put to delay the project. This is to say that the project must receive the support and cooperation of all for timely completion.
Nepal has very high hydro-power potential. However, it is an irony that we have not been able to tap it substantially. Political interference has been one of the impediments for the hydro-power sector development in the country. At a time when fossil fuel, which is not environment-friendly, is getting more expensive the country is hard put to purchase it to meet the ever-growing domestic energy needs. This obviously calls for more investment in the hydro power sector to generate sufficient electricity to power the development requirement of the people and the country. What we need is more projects like the UTHP. The country should also be able to attract foreign investment for the purpose through the guarantee of conducive investment environment, and policies. If we were able to do so, the dreams of an economic miracle would be possible to see prosperity writ large on the face of every Nepali. Now, there should be no more delay in undertaking various hydro power projects whether big, medium or small. If only such initiatives would have been initiated regularly in the past, the country would not have been undergoing load shedding by all accounts at present.
Tolerating pollution of every sort seems to be the fate of an average Kathmandu inhabitant. Go anywhere, there is no dearth of pollution. Breathe in the air, and it is polluted. The roads and alleys have ungainly sights with garbage heaps lined up. Talk of any river or stream in the Kathmandu Valley, whether it be the holy Bagmati or Bishnumati, they are more like waste water conduits. Among the other many forms of pollution, noise pollution is also on the rise. The increase in the traffic volume with more people being able to afford two-wheelers and four-wheelers, and the water tankers and the public vehicles all add up to massive discharge of noise. No thought seems to have been given by the government or the departments concerned to check the growing menace of high decibel sound.
In this context, the tourist hub of Thamel seems to be one of the hardest hit by the sheer volume of noise. Sound of high decibel has negative effects on the physical and mental health of an individual. Therefore, do something to curb high-volume sound not only in the residential areas but also other places.