Monday, December 22, 2008

Load Shedding = Dark & Cold

I challenge you to contemplate - really stop and think for a moment - what your life would be like if you had to live 10 hours of each and every day without electricity.

I hadn't gotten an email from Sudip in a few days so yesterday I Skype-called him and he reported that load shedding is now up to 10 hours per day. The reason I hadn't heard from him is that he hadn't been able to get to a computer while the power was on.

Wikipedia defines it this way:
A rolling blackout, also referred to as load shedding, is an intentionally-engineered electrical power outage. These blackouts are normally in response to insufficient resources and inability to meet prevailing demand for electricity.
I define it another way: Load shedding = dark & cold & a barrier to communication, business, development and progress. It's an everpresent feature (or should I say an everabsent feature) of the daily lives of the people of Nepal.

Here I'm quoting fellow blogger Bibek Paudel because he says it so well: "People plan their days accordingly. They sleep and wake up accordingly. Businesses and office-goers, professionals try to adjust their work and daily routine in harmony with the load-shedding schedule published by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA, aptly called No Electricity Authority of Nepal). NEA is very good at doing it. It changes its schedule and duration time and again, citing different reasons. In summers, its usually because of the flooding at certain rivers that grains and rock try to disturb the hydro-power plants. In winters, its because most rivers originating in the mountains decrease in their volumes because the snow melts less. At other times, its because one or the other power plant needs to be closed because of technical difficulties. At no points do we learn about measures taken to forestall annual occurrences of such events."

In a country where the snow melt runoff from Mt. Everest and the rest of the Himalayan range produces a power potential equivalent to the combined installed hydroelectricity capacity of Canada, the United States and Mexico, this is ridiculous. Less than 1 percent of Nepal's power potential has been developed. Basically, Nepal has the potential to produce enough power for itself, India and other other South Asia countries, with the sale of the surplus power fueling economic development.

Some assert that this latest crisis is falsely generated for some political motive such as government officials who will benefit from the building of diesel-run power plants. Others say that the current power plants are in such terrible condition that they cannot handle the load. The rapid growth of the Kathmandu Valley population is also cited.

Whatever the real reason, its a great hardship for the people.


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