May 11: Even though the country is almost self-sufficient in electricity, 7 percent of the population is yet to get access to electricity. According to a report prepared by the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, access to electricity has reached 93 percent of Nepalis as of mid-April this year.
Joint Secretary and Spokesperson of the Ministry Madhu Prasad Bhetwal said that the mountainous areas and remote areas especially lacked the access to electricity. Electricity has not yet reached mountainous districts like Dolpa, Mugu and Humla, in addition to the scattered settlements in far-flung districts.
“There is a challenge in extending electricity as one house is situated much further from another house in some areas. Places that do not have any electricity project lack access to electricity as well,” said Bhetwal.
The government had set the target of providing electricity to 100 percent Nepalis within the current fiscal year. However, Bhetwal said the target cannot be met this time.
Bhetwal denied taking the blame for the failure saying, “First of all, we didn't get the budget we asked for. Secondly, there are technical problems due to the remote location.”
The practice of not working as planned is not new in Nepal. The fact that only 55.04 percent of the total budget was spent with around 2 months left till the end of the current fiscal year can be considered as a strong example of inefficiency of our authoritative bodies.
Joint Secretary Bhetwal said that they will work to supply electricity to 100 percent Nepalis within the next two years.
“It is not 100 percent guaranteed that the goal will be attained completely within the extended period, but the data will basically be around the same,” he told New Business Age.
It is estimated that a budget of around Rs 54 billion is needed to supply electricity to the remaining 7 percent of the population. Bhetwal said that other works will also pick up pace if the government provides the required amount without any hassles. He said, “Effective work has not been possible mainly because of the lack of budget. On top of that, power expansion is challenging due to procedural hurdles, inaccessible places, lack of infrastructure and so on. However, there will be no delay in work if the required budget is provided.”
In some places that do not have access to electricity from the national grid, other methods like generating electricity from solar plants, micro hydro and mini grid are used. However, such electricity lacks efficiency and quality. Such electricity is only suitable for light and normal household chores. Electricity produced from alternative methods is not enough to run the industry, use electric stoves or do heavy household chores. Therefore, experts conclude that the rest of the population as well should be supplied with electricity from the national grid.