Prof. Lama addresses Afro Asian 7th International Conference in Nepal
HM Bureau, Gangtok, March 4: The Afro Asian 7th International Conference on “Speedy Development of Hydropower in Developing Countries- Issues & Challenges” focussing on the celebration to mark the 100th year of Nepal’s first hydropower plant was inaugurated by the President of Nepal Dr Ram Baran Yadav in Kathmandu on Friday.
While delivering the inaugural address the President urged the government of Nepal to generate at least 100 MW power every year. He noted that though the hydropower potentials of Nepal is 83000 MW so far it has been able to harness only 687 MW which is not even 1 percent of the total potentials of Nepal. He lamented at the very poor situation of power today in the country where there is a regular load shedding of over 14 hours every day. He also urged the global financing companies to invest in the hydel power projects in Nepal.
Attended by a large number of delegates from across the world, this conference had attracted very eminent hydro power experts and professionals. Prof Mahendra P Lama, Founding Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University delivered the key note address at the inaugural function entitled “Transforming Himalayan Waters into Energy : The South Asian Challenges
Prof Lama presented the three models of power trading in South Asia primarily focussing on the seasonality of hydel power generation in the mountains states of India and the neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Nepal. These three models are Bilateral, Third Country Option: Import from Bhutan, Nepal and other non-SAARC countries and Regional Power Pool Option.
In the bilateral options, he gave the example of India – Bhutan Energy Exchange of almost 1440 mw from the power generated at Chhukha (336 MW); Kurichu (60 MW) and Tala (1020 MW). Bhutan annually exports 5922 million units to India which fetches them a hefty revenue of revenue US $ 203 million (Rs 1000 crore). This is 47% of national revenue of Bhutan. By 2020 Bhutan is likely to have a power generation of 10,000 MW.
He highlighted the lost opportunities in Nepal when he said that from 1911 when the first hydro project was set up in Nepal and till 2010 Nepal was able to add hardly 6 MW per annum. On the other hand, Bhutan where the first hydel project was set up in 1967 added 34 MW per annum till 2011.
While giving the example of Third country exports he highlighted what is happening in Afghanistan today which signed a MOU to provide ‘TRANSIT’ electricity as part of the Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market [CASAREM]. He also mentioned that the development of power projects in the mountain areas of India and the generation of surplus power in States in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh exactly fit into “develop-the-west” campaign launched in China in 2000.
China’s western region covers 2/3 rd of the nation’s territory. With a total population 23 percent of the national total it consists of nine provinces : Gansu, Guizhou, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan. All these provinces are energy highly deficit regions and could tremendously gain from the power imports from Indian Himalayan states. This only requires few kilometres of inter connections. This would bring a new dimension to the phenomenon of interdependence in the Sino-India relations
In the Regional Power Pool model , he gave the examples of Successful Power Pools in many regions in the world including Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) consisting of South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Angola, Swaziland & Tanzania and Nord Pool consisting of Norway, Sweden, Finland & Denmark. He highlighted the success story of such a regional power exchange programme in the Greater Mekong Sub-region which has covered 5 countries including Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and two provinces of china viz., Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. He floated the idea of South Asian Power Pool for this region.
Prof Lama also forthrightly raised the issue of new dynamics injected by Climate Change Impact. He said how glacial erosions and likely impact on hydrological flows on South Asian river system could disrupt the hydel power projects in the mountain areas. The Warming in the Himalayas in the last three decades has been between 0.15°C – 0.6°C per decade. He suggested that three strategies to deal with the climate change impact viz., i) Climate change predictions at the regional level should be a top priority; ii) Role of Himalaya as the Water Tower for Asia needs to be safeguarded and iii) Water be seen as the main produce of the Himalayan land.
He also urged the Nepalese Govt and the Indian Govt to jointly bid to include the Sidrapong Power House in Darjeeling which was built in 1897 (first in Asia) and Pharping power house in Nepal built in 1911(third in Asia) in the World heritage list of the United Nations Economic and Social Organisation (UNESCO). There was a huge applause from the audience when he proposed this. The Secretary in the Ministry of Energy SR Regmi applauded the role of academics and experts in keeping the discourse of hydel power alive and widespread.