April 28: Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has formally started load shedding in the industrial sector after it failed to import electricity from India. NEA has started power cuts in the industrial sector by issuing a prior notice on Wednesday. NEA had been cutting power in the industrial sector without any notice after the shortage started during this dry season.
NEA informed that there will be power cuts in the industrial area for 48 hours effective from 10 am Wednesday. There will be power cuts at different times during this period. According to the NEA, there will be a 12-hour daily power cut in some industries and up to 16 hours in others.
Load shedding has re-started after 4 years in Nepal. Load shedding, which was prevalent for 15 years, had ended on May 14, 2018. NEA, which is supplying electricity from India, has informed that the problem has arisen as it has not been able to buy electricity from India. During the dry season, Nepal produces less electricity. At this time, electricity has to be imported from India to meet the domestic demand. But, the power generation in India itself has declined recently.
India has a large share of electricity generated from coal. Recently, the Russia-Ukraine tensions have led to a shortage of coal around the world. This has affected India's power generation. At present, there is load shedding for up to 8 hours daily in India.
NEA's executive director Kulman Ghising said that the power cuts have started in the industrial sector as there isn’t enough electricity supply from India.
“There was some problem in the supply due to the unavailability of electricity from India through the bidding process. Therefore, we have started cutting electricity in the industrial sector by giving advanced notice,” he told New Business Age, “The situation will be normal if we can buy electricity from India. Otherwise there may be a problem in the electricity supply for some time.”
NEA is currently providing electricity to household customers 24 hours a day. Spokesperson of NEA Suresh Bhattarai says that only the power supply of the industrial sector has been cut off. He said that NEA is making efforts to ease the power supply.
Nepal will generate more electricity than it needs from June. NEA says that there will be no such problem after that. Until then, supplies may be disrupted.
The industrial sector has been hit hard after load shedding started. Fuel and electricity are indispensable to the industry. Entrepreneurs say that the operation of the industry has been affected as load shedding has started and fear that industries will run at a loss or close down due to lack of energy.
Chairman of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry Subodh Kumar Gupta said that the industry is affected by the power cut. “Now production costs will rise and the industry will be at a loss. However, we understand the problem at the moment,” he said, “The NEA should provide quality electricity as promised. Once the electricity is cut off, our production costs automatically increase. He said that the raw material in the machine does not work when the power is cut.” He said that the industries will prepare accordingly if the electricity is provided as promised.
Chairman of the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Nepal Dhruba Thapa said that the cement industry would be more affected by load shedding. More electricity is needed to run cement and iron rod industries. Therefore, such industries have been hit hardest by load shedding, he said.
“If the situation returns to normal within a short period of time, then the industry can run smoothly. If the problem continues, the industry may have to shut down,” he said, “Running an industry with diesel during such an inflationary period is really difficult, but there’s no other solution. We are really worried right now.”
He demanded that the government should give as much as it can to the industry even after cutting the electricity for household purposes. “It would have been better if the government had cut off domestic electricity and given it to us,” he said, “But the government does not seem interested in running the industry. Now when the industry is affected, it has a negative impact on the overall economy. The government needs to understand that.”