Living in Dark: 12 Hours blackout everyday

Sunita Basnet
Posted April 2, 2011 from Nepal

Talking with Pramila over a phone has encouraged me to write about the frequent power cut off in Nepal. Pramila, who has just finished taking her School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination, shared her exam preparation experience after a short informal personal conversation. “I am going to be sick and blind” says Pramila in a soft voice. I was wondering about the relationship between examination and her answer.

Finally she started saying, “As per the latest schedule, there is 12 hours load shedding daily. Most of the time, it is schedule at night and early morning, which forces us to study in a candle” with a rough voice. Studying in a light of candle has both mental and physical problem. This is not a single story of my village but a story of a whole country.

The problem escalated in January 2009 with blackouts of up to 6 hours a day. I remembered my last visit to Nepal on February 1, 2011; the load shedding was schedule for 16 hours per day. And the major chunk of load shedding hours was enforced mostly in a day. Now I am in Korea and feel blessed to be in a country where we even don’t know what “power cut or black out” is. I am blessed that I do not have to suffer but the situation of Nepal make me worried every time.

Let’s go back to Nepal. Nepal has among the world’s highest proportion of water generated power. According the Nepal Hydropower plantation, “Nepal has approximately 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower potential. However, the present situation is that Nepal has developed only approximately 600 MW of hydropower” .Thus, power cuts and load shedding has long been a regular feature of life in the country. It has affected the economy and all spheres of public life especially students who are preparing for examinations.

The country can produce 600 MW but due to the sharp decline of water level in rivers, it is able to produce only 190 megawatts and still 40% of the total population does not have access to Electricity. Interestingly, the demand of electricity is increasing by about 7-9% per year and our production capacity is decreasing every day. If the situation still remains the same, the need will never fulfill. Sadly, Nepal produces only half of its electricity needs and half is imported from India which still is unable to fulfill the demand of electricity in the country.

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