Industrial Sector Reeling Under Twelve Hours of Load Shedding

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Industrial Sector Reeling Under Twelve Hours of Load Shedding

April 9: Aegis Plastics Pvt Ltd located in Budhiganga-4 of Morang had been employing its workers in two shifts, day and night. The company, which has been running the industry for 22 hours a day, has not been able to employ workers regularly due to hours-long power outages for the past few days.
"Unannounced load shedding is happening 12 hours a day now," Ankit Khadgi, the owner of the industry, told New Business Age, adding, "Due to this, I had to lay off 20 workers."
According to him, load shedding has started increasing since last week. 
India recently renewed the electricity trade agreement with Nepal on condition to provide electricity from the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) only during the day time. After renewing the contract for three months, India is supplying electricity to Nepal only from 6 am to 6 pm. The Nepal Electricity Authority also informed that India renewed the agreement to provide only 554 MW. Earlier, NEA could import up to 600 MW electricity from India round the clock and as per the requirement.
Since India stopped providing electricity after 6 pm, the NEA is finding it difficult to manage electricity during the peak hours. According to the authority, the current peak hour electricity demand is more than 1,800 megawatts. However, currently only 1000 megawatts are being produced from the electricity projects operating in the country. 
Although electricity is produced in full capacity during the rainy season, the hydropower projects based on river flow produce only one-third of the capacity in winter. As a result, Nepal, which can export surplus electricity in the rainy season, has to rely on India to meet its domestic demand in the winter.

As India did not provide electricity in the evening, the NEA cut the power supply to the industrial sector. 
"The industrial sector had been facing power cuts for 8 hours a day, including four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. After India stopped providing electricity at night, the NEA has started load shedding for four more hours in the afternoon and at night," said Rakesh Surana, president of the Industry Association of Morang.
Although the NEA has not declared load shedding, it has halted power supply to the major industrial areas of the Terai. The NEA insists that it has not been able to supply electricity as per the demand due to the lack of transmission lines that can carry more electricity.
According to industrialists, as the authority has not given a definite schedule of load shedding, there has been confusion as to when to operate the industry and when not to operate. "Due to the problem of lights going out while the factory machines are running, the industries have been bearing huge losses," said Surana.
Surana, who runs a plastic industry in the Morang-Sunsari Industrial Corridor, said that once the light goes off, all the plastic in the machine gets damaged. "It takes up to 4 hours to reheat the machine," he said.
Khadgi has also been experiencing the same problem. 
“When the light goes out while the machine is running, you have to throw away all the plastic in it. It takes 40 minutes to heat up the machine again if the light goes off for 10 minutes. When the machine heats up, there is a fear that the light will go out again. How can we run an industry in such a situation?” complained Khadgi, adding, “It would have been better if they had made public the schedule of how long the lights go.”
The Morang-Sunsari Industrial Corridor employs 67,944 workers. According to industrialists, load shedding has started to increase not only in Morang-Sunsari Industrial Corridor but also in other industrial corridors.
Even in the Bara-Parsa industrial corridor, power cuts have started since the onset of winter. After India did not provide electricity at night, the industries here had to face more power cuts. The industrial city of Birgunj also falls in this industrial corridor.
Anil Agarwal, President of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce, complained that they face long hours of power cut.
"Until a few days ago, there used to be load shedding for 8 hours daily in Birgunj industrial area. Now, there is load shedding for 4 more hours," Agarwal said.
He said that the production capacity of all industries including cement, steel and plastic in Birgunj area has decreased by 70 to 75 percent and load shedding has played a major role in this. Industrial production has also decreased due to lack of demand in the market. According to the data released recently by the National Statistics Office, it is estimated that the growth rate of the productive sector in the second quarter of the current fiscal year was negative by 0.4 percent.
“The NEA gives more priority to household consumers than industry for electricity supply. Therefore, the NEA has requested the businessmen not to operate their industries during the peak hours,” Agarwal said. 
NEA Spokesperson Chandan Kumar Ghosh said that power distribution in some industrial areas may become more challenging from next week. However, as the water level in the river has started to rise, Ghosh believes that the industries will not have to face the problem for a long time.
A week ago, it rained in different parts of the country. Also, due to the melting of snow, the water level in the rivers has increased. The NEA has confirmed that the electricity generation from the run-of-the-river project has increased. Based on this, the officials of the authority have estimated that the current problem will not last long.
Apart from Kulekhani, there is no reservoir-based hydropower project in operation in the country. The three projects in Kulekhani have a capacity of 106 MW. The contribution of other energy sources including solar is also negligible. In such a situation, the NEA has taken a strategy to increase the production of any type of electricity project and also to increase the production of solar energy.

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