POWER supply in Nepal has been disrupted for three and a half hours once every week since January 01 this year and if the dry season continues and no option available, the period of load shedding could double by the end of April, experts concerned warned.
The demand for power increases by 10 per cent or around 60 mega watt every year but as attention was not given to the increasing demand, there is a deficit of around 70 to 170 mega watt power in the country.
As there is no possibility of any new power projects coming into operation immediately, the problem of load shedding is likely to worsen in the years ahead.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) saw a deficit of 309,000 unit of electricity in December and January last year, which increased to 588,000 this year and by the end of April the deficit could climb to 890,000 unit, General Manager Shambhu Prasad Upadhyaya said.
Though the current power capacity of the country is 609 mega watt, the decline in the water level in rivers during the winter season makes the production capacity of the power houses go down by 60 per cent.
Presently, only 470 mega watt of electricity is produced, thereby making load shedding inevitable, Upadhyaya said.
The problem arose also because the demand for power increases during the winter season when power production is low, Upadhyaya said, adding, "The NEA has excess power during the rainy season as the production is as per the actual capacity."
Stating that the problem has to be faced all of a sudden because attention was not given in the past to construct hydel projects in order to meet the increasing demand, Assistant Minister for Water Resources Binod Kumar Shaha said that talks are being held to purchase an additional 20 megawatt from India.
Shaha also disclosed that legal provisions are being made to attract investment in the construction of small and medium scale hydel projects.
Chairperson of Butwal Power Company Gyanendra Lal Pradhan recommends that emphasis should be given to construction of hydro-electricity projects on the basis of regional necessity.
The Chilime Hydel Company Limited is working to construct a reservoir that could produce an additional 10 mega watt of electricity during the high consumption period and this can bring down the load shedding by 25 per cent, said Managing Director of the Company Damber Bahadur Nepali.
As it would take at least four to five years to complete one project, emphasis should be given to implementation of small, medium-scale and big hydel projects considering the needs in the long-term, said former member of the NEA Board of Directors Ratna Sansar Shrestha.
The NEA has some possible projects including the 30 mega watt Chamelia, 14 mega watt Kulekhani III, 309 mega watt upper Tamakoshi. Various donor agencies have shown interest in investing in the projects but no decisions have been taken so far.
As per the target of the Water Resources Strategy, the government recently introduced the long-term National Hydro Project that targets to produce 4,000 mega watt of electricity by 2027 and thus provide power facilities to 75 per cent of the people in Nepal.