This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in Feb 2013 issue.
Living in Australia we always hear things happening in Nepal like strikes, Nepal Band, political instability, traffic problem, pollutions and of course load shedding. We always sympathise with the people who have to live with these conditions and we feel sorry for them as they how to put up with all this hardships in life.
I have to admit it is easy to say “Bichara” and move on with our happy life in Australia but it is a different ball game when you are facing the problem first hand. I have been in Nepal for a few weeks now and I had never imagined how much load shedding can affect one’s life until now. How can you lead a normal life if you have to live without electricity for 12 hours a day and it is predicated to be more hours in coming weeks.
Living in Sydney I never have to plan my life around electricity but in Kathmandu you must be a great planer if you want to live a smooth life. Most days, working people of Kathmandu won’t see electricity at their home as there will be no lights when they leave home and there is still no light when they come back home. It’s like you live in the city that has no electricity at all.
Currently, the only days, I wake up with electricity is twice a week on Sundays and Mondays and rest of the week, no lights during mornings and evenings. If I want to do something that requires electricity, I need to wait till 11 or 12 in the afternoon and quickly finish my chore before electricity goes out again.
It is winter here so if I want to shower with hot water using the hot water geyser, I must run and turn on the geyser as soon as electricity comes on as it is a luxury of only for 4-5 hours. Also I must iron my clothes, charge my entire electrical appliance in that time as well otherwise I have to wait another 7 hours before I can use all the gadgets.
Some people have even water problem because of load shedding. If water is supplied when there is no electricity most people can’t fill their tank which is on their rooftop so they have to ration water to live for day to day life.
We all know that Nepal has a huge hydropower potential. Nepali rivers and the steep gradient of the country’s topography provide ideal conditions for the development of some of the world’s largest hydroelectric projects, approximately 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower but currently Nepal has developed only approximately 600 MW of hydropower. Therefore, bulk of the economically feasible generation has not been realized yet.
Nepal is not able to generate even half of the 900 MW peak supply demand during dry season. The electricity demand in Nepal is increasing by about 7-9% per year and so has pollution in major city like Kathmandu so until and unless major hydro electricity projects get started in Nepal, there seems no hope of people of Nepal to expect normal electricity supply in the country.
I hope Nepal will get its act together soon and generate electricity not only for whole Nepal but also to export electricity to India and China, both of which are in need of more power to fuel their development goals.
There are a few alternatives that people are using in Nepal when power is out like inverter or solar electricity but not everyone can afford this luxury which means people are still using candles everyday like in 1800 in this 21st century to do their everyday tasks.
Most evening if you walk around Kathmandu, the whole street has no light which make the city less safe to go out after sunset affecting lots of shops and restaurants around the country.
Now you can imagine how lucky we are in Australia and rest of the world to have electricity facility and how privileged we are not to have to plan our life around electricity. And I salute all the Nepalis in Nepal who are still happy despite living in a country with major blackouts everyday.