Hriti Foundation organized the discussion program on the problem of irregular electricity supply and its effects on Karnali’s growth in its fortnightly discussion series Let’s Speak. The discussion was held on 7 October 2020 saw the participation of youths and stakeholders from seven districts of Karnali.
Speaking on the discussion, entrepreneur Dinesh Khatri said that the irregular power supply in Surkhet has caused more problems than previous load shedding. He said, “If there was a schedule of load shedding, we would prepare accordingly. While I was studying online classes myself, I missed a lot of lessons because the light was irregular. I also run a business and sometimes I face electrical equipment malfunction due to low voltage. He added, “I am also a member of the school management committee. Power cuts create problems for us while conducting online classes at the school. In Birendranagar, power outages are scattered, so some areas have electricity, whereas other areas don’t. Therefore, all the citizens are facing problems due to power outages.’
Similarly, Megha Reule, a journalist from Salyan, spoke about the same problem in the Salyan district. He said that there is a problem with a power outage for three to four days due to strong winds. He said that the businessman in Salyan had to face the problem of the breakdown of electric machines caused by unstable electricity.
Youth activist Dhanraj Sunar from Jumla said that the citizens have been facing the problem of load shedding in Jumla for the past four years. “The problem of power outage has increased since the previous year when a new machine was added at the local powerhouse. Earlier, power outages happened for days. As a result, there are problems in government and non-government offices and the business sector,” he said. He added that he took internet data packages for online class but without charge on mobile and laptop he could not take classes anyway. They have to wait for about three days for work that could be done in 10 minutes due to power outages. Now, after reconnecting the old electric machine, the light comes every other day. In other words, Jumla gets electricity only for 15 days in a month.
Hasta Chaulagain, a journalist from Kalikot, said that like other districts, the problem of electricity in Kalikot district is very embarrassing. The electricity is not available in Kalikot for the past four months. “The powerhouse was damaged by a landslide. “Entrepreneurs and students are facing a huge problem due to power outages. Printing here is expensive. It takes time to print and bring prints from Surkhet. Due to the problem of electricity, locals coming to Manma, the district headquarters, from different local levels have to suffer a lot. Citizens who walk for ten hours are forced to return home in the evening frustrated. We have to come the same way again tomorrow,” he said.
Binod Acharya of Dailekh district said that all the people of Karnali, including Dailekh, are facing a big problem of electricity at present. He said, “Currently, we, the people of Karnali, are suffering from power outages. While I am currently living in Dailekh, I have been facing various problems due to power outages. Even the mobile network is not working. Everyone needs to pay attention to whether the mafias are involved in the irregularity of electricity.”
Karan BK, a youth from Rukum West, also said that the problem of people coming to Rukum West is big and it has created a lot of difficulties in the daily life of the common people.
Summarizing the discussion, Dinesh Gautam from Hriti Foundation, said that Surkhet, Dailekh, Salyan, Rukum, and Jajarkot are connected through national transmission lines and the other five districts have experienced power outages due to local transmission. He said that electricity was irregular in the districts where the national transmission line connected. “At present, some programs that cannot be physically due to COVID 19 and virtual programs have been organizing. These have been greatly affected by the irregular electricity here,” he said. He said that more factories were operating in Birendranagar, Surkhet, the capital of Karnali, than anywhere else in the state, but electrical equipments are deteriorating due to irregular power supply. He added that there is talk of increasing the capacity of the national transmission line coming to Surkhet. But it will take about two years for that to happen. ‘This is a common problem of the citizens of Karnali and everyone’s voice is needed to solve it. While making a long-term solution, it is also important to take initiative for a short-term solution,’ he added.