Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
General People supported the 1990 movement not because they trusted any of the so- called leaders of the political parries existing during the period but were tired of the King's brutalism, the nepotism and hypocrisy, due to which the people came to street which looked like the support to the then leaders.
The people participated in the said movement and many sacrificed their life and many had shed their blood with the hope that the so-called leaders, after the punishment from the King in the name of panchyati system, might have understood the basic fundamentals of democracy and the ethics of the democracy and will do their best for the people and country by following the democratic norms and principle of democracy.
However, it was a false assumption of the people who supported them hoping for the best and expected the required changes in the existing political culture with rapid economic development of the country. But the politicians of the country not only betrayed the people but also proved that the street dogs would have been better than the present day ministers to rule the country. By ten years, after 1990, of their looting of the country's treasury in the mane of ruling, every body knew that the so-called leaders of the different political parties were camouflaged dacoits, whose only one objective was to loot the country and fool the people. This was proved beyond any doubt during their ruling of the period 1991 to 2006. The activities of the political leaders during this period also proved that Nepal is the only country where the politicians with few exception are interested for their individual and partisan interests only and their main works being; to loot the country in various pretexts, deceive their cadres, fool the citizen and speak lies and talk nonsense most of the time and never do any things good for the nation and people. This, I consider nothing but the raping of the country.
In the mean time, due to none democratic behavior and almost autocratic ruling of Nepali Congress (NC), which is fully responsible for the present bogus condition of the nation, the Maoist, who had even participated in the then election, started the insurgency and the 10 years of their insurgency period was the violent era in the history of the country. This violent era still needs a valid and non-biased evaluation to conclude whether such revolution was required or not.
Due to the rampant corruption in the country, useless and senseless politicians who were always busy in fighting with each other for power and never gave any importance to the country's requirements and development, the people of the country totally rejected them and started to hate them. For the monarchy this was golden opportunity, so the king took that opportunity and took power for the second time. This self-rule was supported by a large section of the people, not because they liked the king ruling but because they were tired of the corruption and constant power struggle fight of the then existing political parties.
The political parties started the demonstration against the kings rule and the so-called demonstration turned out to be laughing matter, as there was no support from the people and the leaders looked like clowns in a drama on a stage as they made their demonstration sitting in the Ratna park from 10 am to 5 pm like the office going bureaucrats. Once the leaders noticed they have no public support and having no other alternative than to bowed down to Maoist and accept the election of the Constitution assembly and a republic, which were the two main political demands of the Maoist. The demands which were opposed by the same politicians until they were kicked out of power by the then king Gyanendra and which were also completely rejected by the people. For their survival they had no choice than to accept the political demands of the Maoist and follow and support the struggle of Maoist and so they signed the peace accord in the India's capital, New Delhi.
In this context, any intellectual should ask the so-called leaders why they opposed the basic and appropriate demands of Maoist for 10 long years and forced the Maoist to take arms and country was put in to such a big trouble. In my opinion, the then leaders who ruled the country from 1991 and opposed the Maoist demands must explain to the people of Nepal, why they opposed the Maoist demands and accepted it only after being kick out by the king. In my opinion they are responsible for the killings of more than 16,000 innocent people during the Maoist insurgency. A powerful legal enquiry should take place and if they are found guilty, necessary legal actions should be taken against the jokers, who call themselves so-called political leaders.
The king’s action, as well as the people’s rejection left no other alternatives to the political parties but to support the Maoist. So, in the name of joint struggle, they had virtually followed the Maoist and sold all their ideology and political principles and made 190 degree turn in their political ideology, just for the power. In this whole universe we will not find any political organization, which will take such a sharp change in their ideology just for power and still not explain to the people why they changed their ideology in such a way. This only proves that these political parties are without any political ideology and will do any thing to be in power, so that they could loot the country' treasury and consider the people as their puppets. In my opinion, such volte- face behavior is nothing but raping the country politically.
After this, it was natural that due to Maoist participation, the then king was forced to accept the demands of the Maoist and forced to handover all the power to the political parties. After this what happened in the country was nothing but the acts of the Jokers fooling the people and looting the country and the fight for the power and stupidities. This was not only mockery of democracy but also total absence of the basic norms of the democracy in the political parties.
The Constitutional assembly election was undertaken by spending billions of rupees, which were just to fool the people and to be in power again and loot the nation, the political parties totally ignored the people's requirements and gave importance to the partisan's interests only and started to show all types of shameful activities in the name ruling the country but actually to fulfill their patrician and individual interests only.
Political parties and few of their puppets in the name of the Constitutional assembly (CA) election conducted such an election that cannot be considered the CA from any point of view. As far as my understanding goes, the CA is to write the Constitution for the country by its people for the people. But the political leaders were so selfish and power hungry, that they organized the CA in such a way that there are hardly few people's representative in the present so-called CA Assembly. More than half of its members are just the party representatives who were just selected by its leaders not based in their capacity, ability, and dedication to democracy or ideological commitment or qualification but on their loyalty to its main leaders. Other members are elected not on the basis of majority support from the people but based in outdated and completely unsuitable method of election known as first-past-the-post, due to which, baring few people like Babu Ram Bhattarai none have support of the majority of the people. I do not understand how such fellows who are rejected by the majority of the voters and are supported by hardly 20% voters only can represent the concerned constituency and can claim as the people's representatives in the CA. This is nothing but the intellectual bankruptcy. Could anyone explain how these party representatives can be called the people’s representative?
Finally, the election result showed the Maoists having the plurality of seats in the CA, but the then ruling NC took a long time to handover the power to the winner of the election they have held. This shows the total lack of democratic norms and when they were forced to hand over the power to Maoist, all types of machination was started and all parties, except the Maoist, insisted the first president of the country to be selected against the democratic norms, Constitution and ethics of democracy creating a power struggle between the elected PM and selected President (selected because he was co-opted by the party members only) without involvement of people of the country.
The act of the selected president in countermanding the order of the Maoist PM was not only undemocratic but also against the basic norms and principle of the democracy and a challenge to the people’s power. So this requires impeachment of the president, if we want to maintain democratic culture and preserve our hard earned democracy This autocratic act of the president undertaken on the written request of all political parties, against the Maoist clearly suggest that all political parties of our country are corrupt and do every things possible to garb power and are in politics just to loot the country’s treasury and that they even do not know what democracy is and who are the real people’s representatives. In this context, it must be consider a very wise, sincere and democratic step of Prachanda by resigning from the post of PM.
After this, what is happening in the country is neither ethical nor should have allowed to happen but simply because the CA was formed in a wrong way, this all was inevitable, as we cannot except to grow orange by planting the seed of the potato.
By allowing the same groups who rule the country also to write the Constitution, we are facilitating bad governance. If we except to get the good and ethical things in the country then it is our mistake in doing so, not the mistakes of the rulers as they are in politics just to loot the country. Imagine what will happen when you allow the group of thieves to make a law for the punishment to the thieves. What sort of laws can one expect to be made in such a situation? Similarly, what can we expect of the Constitution made by the corrupt members in the CA.
For months the CA is not functioning but the party representatives are getting their allowances and perks whether any work is done or not, if the CA was undertaken to elect people’s representatives rather than to select the party representatives, all the present troubles would have never come. It is intellectual bankruptcy to expect the present day politicians will write people’s Constitution for the people and to develop the country. Rather the Constitution if even written by present so-called members of CA will be for the political parties by the party representatives for looting the country's treasury and to fool the citizen of the Nepal. Do you not think it is just like raping the country to conduct the CA election in such a way where only the party members can be selected or elected and not a single representative of the people is elected? The political parties not only fooled the people saying the CA is for the people by the people and from the people but also by political machination did their best to be in power. Can any of the present day leaders logically explain that there is no difference between the party representative and people's representative? The two types of representatives carry lot of different responsibility and convey entirely different notion? I will not be surprised if the present so-called members of CA make such a Constitution which say that all party representatives are also people representative and should get the allowances and other perks and similarly whether they loose or win, get 2 % vote or more than 50% vote can be consider as confide member of assembly and should get all the allowances and perks of the assembly, all ex-PMs should get a house with all facilities made from the country's treasury (as was done for K P Bhattarai), all parties should get money from the treasury for running the parties and huge amount as an election fund and no corruption charges can be made against all politicians and they can loot few trucks of money from the Rastra Bank every year, and will get free ride to any kind of government owned transportation and can rape any women of the country etc. In my opinion, the Constitution if made by the present party representatives will be no better than that.
Neither do I consider any such fellow who has not received more than 50% of the votes, as people's representative nor do I consider it will be democratic to accept the present day election procedures. If we want to save our hard earned democracy there must be clear distinction between the people representatives and party representatives and in my personal opinion, to accept any party representatives as people representatives without getting more than 50% of vote is nothing but intellectual bankruptcy and from democratic point of view, such is raping the country.
I feel a sense of shame to name the present PM, the fellow who had been rejected by the people from not only one constituency but from two constituencies to have been co-opted by the party leaders and made a members of CA on the basis of bargaining. And how stupid this is for the intellectual groups of the country to accept him as PM of the country. From the point of view of democracy, to select such person, as PM of the country just for the party interest is nothing but day light raping of the country. If you can drag any body in the CA and can select such person who has lost election in two constituencies, just by bargaining among the political parties, what the hell you can expect from such crooks to be done in the interest of the country? So why waste billions of Rs from country’s treasury in the name of election when the election has no meaning and even the looser can be PM of the country. Is not all such activities daylight raping of the country? Who will save my lovely country from the hands of such crooks and how this will be done and when this will happen other than by the people themselves.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The use of petroleum as the fuel for transport is not only a heavy burden on the national exchequer but its use results in many harmful effects. The transport sector is the primary reason for atmospheric pollution as petroleum fumes cause harmful emissions such as CO2 and suspended particulate matters that are detrimental to health. The use of petroleum based transportation results in increased economic costs : billions of Rupees spent on the import of petroleum fuels, decreasing air quality resulting in increasing health related cost, decreased productivity for the economically active population and rising inflation due to rise of international oil prices.
Given the above scenario it is high time to debate on the relevance of clean electrical based transport in Nepal. In this context, a brief look into the development of electricity based transportation is relevant.
The Historical Overview
The first effort in using electricity based transport in Nepal was in 1960 when USAID assisted in implementation of a 43 km long bi-cable goods ropeway between Hetauda and Kathmandu. This ropeway with capacity of 22.5 ton per hour performed well during the initial years when the Tribhuwan Rajpath was the only road link between Kathmandu and the Terai. With development of other better roads from the plains to Kathmandu the relevance of ropeway transport diminished and as the system was under the management of a poorly-managed government owned corporation (Nepal Transportation Corporation) the system soon became defunct.
The second important event in the development of electricity based transportation was the implementation of the trolley bus system between Kathmandu and Suryavinayak in Bhaktapur. The construction of the 13 kilometer long trolley bus system was undertaken under a grant aid of the Chinese Government and was completed in 2 years (1975 – 1977) with an investment of Rs. 40 million. The trolley bus system with 15 stations was a very popular means of transport and ferried between 10,000 – 11,000 commuters daily initially and the volume increased to 20,000 per day. Initially 22 trolley buses were in operation and in 1997 10 more buses with bigger passenger carrying capacity were added to the fleet. The system operated 16 hours a day and had a very low passenger fare of Rs. 3 - 4 depending on the travel distance. The hey days of the trolley bus system started to decline with the advent of democracy in the country. The culture of "Bandhs" and "Chakka Jam" and "tod fod" seriously effected the operation of the trolley buses. The politically affiliated ministers started using the trolley bus unit as an employment centre for their political cadre. The system of subcontracting of passenger fare collection to the drivers (Rs. 425 per trip for smaller and Rs. 475 for the bigger buses) resulted in a situation where the drivers became rich and NTC poorer by the day. The over staffing and low productivity led to a fast deterioration in the financial viability of the enterprise. Lack of funds led to deterioration of maintenance, depletion of spare parts stocks and finally scavenging of the buses whereby parts of the operating buses were removed for use as spare parts. The system soon collapsed and in December 2001, HMG by a cabinet decision, decided to close down the trolley bus system after 27 years of eventful operation. Subsequent efforts of the Government to restart the trolley bus system under the management of the Municipality of Kathmandu, Thimi and Bhaktapur failed as there was lack of commitment to the cause and lack of effective management.
The year 1993 will be remembered in history of development of electricity based transportation as one of the important landmarks. Under USAID funding an American INGO called Global Resources Institute was mandated with the task of developing a proto-type 3 wheeler run by batteries. This proto-type was christened as the Safa Tempo. After six months of trial operation the 7 Safa Tempos were handed over to Nepal Electric Vehicle Industry (NEVI) a company formed by 28 Nepali professionals dedicated to the cause of environmental protection in Nepal. NEVI operated the demonstration fleet and together with a few other EV manufacturing companies started assembly of the Safa Tempos for commercial operation on various routes within Kathmandu.
A decade and half later Kathmandu has a fleet of 650 Safa Tempos running on 14 various routes and cater to 130,000 commuters daily. 31 charging stations cater to the battery charging requirements of the Safa Tempos. While USAID quick started the development of the 3 wheeler Safa Tempo, it was DANIDA which further supported the development of the EV industry by creating a Clean Vehicle Fund to support research, development and promotion of the EV's. Under this program DANIDA funds were made available for training of drivers and technicians for the EV industry, for operating 4 battery charging stations in Lalitpur and for procurement of 48 EV's by the private sector. Almost half of the drivers of the Safa Tempos are female drivers trained under the Danish program.
While the unusual strides made in Nepal in the EV industry may be a matter of appreciation within the world community the number of Safa Tempo has not risen beyond 650 due to many reasons. The difficulty for acquiring route permits by Safa Tempo and domination of existing route by the diesel mini/microbus syndicates have made the increment of EV's virtually impossible.
The Way Ahead
The good work done in the initial development in the EV sector should continue and GoN should adopt short-term and long-term measures in expanding the horizon of electricity based transport for the overall benefit of the nation and its people.
The short-term measures that the government could adopt are the following:
a. Devise policies whereby clean transport based on electricity is given top priority and protected by providing incentive in excise duty and customs exemptions and reduced electricity tariff for night time charging of electric vehicles;
b. Adopt policies whereby the approximately 700 polluting LPG operated vehicles plying in Kathmandu are converted into battery run electric vehicles;
c. Adopt policies whereby vehicles over 15 years are given due incentives for converting into electric vehicles;
d. Create zones in tourist destinations such as Chitwan, Lumbini and Pokhara and historically important places such as Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square are accessible only to electric vehicles;
e. Allot priority to electric vehicles while issuing route permits for passenger vehicles
The above steps would yield results beneficial to all. In a study conducted by Clean Air Network Nepal it has been found that if 1,000 old gasoline vehicles were to be converted into electric vehicles, NEA would receive Rs. 25 million as additional income from sale of its night time spilled energy, a national saving of Rs. 219 million would result due to saving in import of petroleum fuels and the individual operator would benefit by Rs. 137,000 annually as savings in vehicle operation cost.
The long-term measures that the government should adopt are as follows:
a. Revive and operate trolley buses for transportation to the maximum extent possible. The defunct Kathmandu – Bhaktapur trolley bus should be reinstated once the widening of the Arniko Highway is completed. Extend trolley bus operation along the Kathmandu Ringroad, along the Bishnumati Corridor and operate radial trolley bus routes to Godavari, Kirtipur, Kalanki and Budanilkantha. Implement trolley buses in the Terai along feasible sectors such as Jogbani – Dharan, Birgunj – Pathlaiya, Sunauli – Butwal and Nepalgunj – Kohalpur;
b. Implement electric train services as mass transport system on feasible routes such as East West Highway, Fast Track Road Corridor, Kathmandu – Pokhara and Kathmandu – Khasa corridors;
c. Implement ropeway transport in hill areas which do not have road access;
d. Encourage the private sector by providing correct incentives for implementation of cable cars;
e. Support the creation of a research and development institute to promote the EV industry.
Given the proper priority, incentives and attention from all relevant quarters, Nepal could once again regain its Shangri-La status – this time as the Shangri-La of EV's.
(Mr. B.M. Sherchan is the immediate past Chairman of Electric Vehicle Association of Nepal)
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Nepal, a multitude of petty principalities in the Himalayas, was built up into a single monolithic state by King Prithvi Narayan Shah in the 18th century . Once unified, Nepal managed to retain its sovereignty despite the presence of expansionist East India Company in the Indian plains. In the north Tibet and China were ancient polities. Nepal’s expansion following King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s death brought it into confrontation with East India Company. In the Anglo-Nepal war (1814-1816), Nepal was defeated. Earlier in 1792, in a confrontation with Tibet, Nepal was able to stop invading Chinese forces in 1792.
The rise of the Ranas after 1849 saw Nepal as a firm ally of the British interests in the subcontinent. Jung Bahadur’s support to the British facing Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 brought back Butwal plains to Nepal. Following Bhimsen Thapa’s hardline anti-Company policy would have been disastrous. Nepal’s support of Indian mutineers would have resulted into British punitive expedition against Kathmandu and subsequent occupation of Nepal. Nepal would have thus lost its sovereignty as one of the princely Indian states. The Ranas also managed to persuade Britain to recognize Nepal’s sovereignty in 1923 and Nepal was able to maintain diplomatic ties with Britain in the form of an ambassador to London. The British maintained a resident in Nepal since 1816 Sugauli Treaty.
As Mao’s communists defeated and drove Kuomintang to Formosa in 1948, a new threat emerged toward Nepal’s northern frontier. Communist China marched into Tibet in 1950 to consolidate its claim altering Nepal’s strategic scenario. At the same time, anti-Rana politicians influenced by Indian Congress sought to establish democracy and socialism, a system foreign to Nepal. Used to authoritarian centralized rule, these ideas were bound to invite radical change and threat to Nepal’s existence as an independent country.
Before India and China clashed in 1962, Nepal gave up its experimentation with democracy and established a semi-democratic polity with considerable power in the hands of King Mahendra. In the heights of the Cold War, King Mahendra chose neutral foreign policy and adherence to non-aligned movement primarily to keep Nepal away from being entangled in Sino-Indian schism. Nepal thus was isolated from Western countries, its principal friends. Foreign investement into exploiting water resources was thus not forthcoming from the rich Western countries while the masses remained poor, mainly into subsistence farming, employment into British and Indian armies and as laborers in India.
After 1990, political change was idiosyncratic. While communism failed in Eastern Europe, Nepal saw a resurgence in appeal to communist parties. Populist slogans appealed to poorer, uneducated classes and from 1996, a radical wing of Nepal’s communists, the Maoists began armed revolution in the rural areas. Political violence unleashed in Nepal cost 15,000 lives and it propelled Nepal’s Maoists into the major political party. Its radical and revolutionary ideals has brought into conflict with the old order. This movement has managed to eliminate Nepal’s royal family from power. Its current aim is to integrate its armed cadre into Nepal’s army and take control of this oldest institution of Nepal. Absolute control is the supposed goal to transform Nepal into a one party communist state.
Nepal’s democracy has been skillfully infiltrated and brutally exploited by communists. Popular King Birendra should never have yielded to demands to liberalize the political system in 1990. Without a firm mechanism to check the growth of illiberal and extremist organizations, Maoists emerged and catapulted themselves to power employing unchecked political violence. King Birendra lost his life and his family in mysterious circumstances in 2001, which harks back to times of Nepal’s bloody past coups of the 19th century. King Birendra’s brother, King Gyanendra, failed to restore order in 2006 when the drive to republic gained momentum resulting in loss of monarchy, an institution with greatest contribution to Nepal’s unification and consolidation. Loss of the King as head of the state has resulted in a leadership vacuum.
March toward federalism could end up with disintegration of the state along ethnic lines aka Bosnia Herzegovina leaving room for future discord and armed conflict. The notion of federal states within a small territory as Nepal sounds impractical. The idea of these federal states negotiating with India to export power sounds farcical. Nepal’s move toward unfamiliar terrain could well take it to a point of no return.
The neo-elite of Nepal, primarily Brahmins, does not have a lasting legacy of statesmanship. Demolishing institutions in the name of restructuring is eliminating Nepal’s identity.
In the multipolar world, Nepal may well fall into the trap of emerging powers and their national interests. China’s emergence into a world power may influence pro-China elements in Nepal into suppressing Tibetan refugees and their deportation to uncertain fate in Chinese prison camps.
Communists and Maoists are already into anti-Western line. Nepal’s water resources need massive capital injection for development if it were to sustain projects capable of meeting Nepal’s rising energy demand. The hope of creating projects to export energy will always require technical expertise from the West. Nepal’s good relations with US and EU, including its traditional special ties with UK, cannot be surrendered to suit the short term foreign policy interests of its immediate neighbors. Nepal should cooperate in regional groupings like SAARC and BIMSTEC and exploit Nepal’s unique status as a center for sustainable tourism.
Radicalization of the youth by extremist political organizations and elimination of traditional institutions will erase Nepal’s appeal as a center of its unique culture. Heated political controversies with propensity for armed conflict has already earned Nepal’s image as a failed state among Nepal’s friends and donors. Further deterioration of law and order may invite intervention by India. Nepal may lose its sovereignty the same way Tibet lost it to China and Sikkim to India. The Himalayan Kingdoms were lost to expansionist designs of neighboring powers with deteriorating conditions expediting the loss of sovereignty. Therefore it is imperative that Nepal maintain partnership with NATO to maintain its territorial integrity. Nepal could well learn more from participation in NATO operations. Also, revenue in the form of pay and security assistance would be welcome.
Under no circumstances should Nepal join Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) despite shortsighted arguments like it would ensure energy supply. Russia and China who are key members of this alliance are keen to develop an anti-Western front through this new Warsaw pact. The SCO member states are mostly totalitarian dictatorships bent on suppressing political freedom and human rights. Nepal’s membership into SCO would ensure the rule of anti-democratic forces like Maoists who would be more than happy to suppress individual rights and establish authoritarian political order.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Having had some misgiving about the fancy amounts by which Nepal is supposed to be benefited by implementing Pancheshwar Project, I have conducted an analysis of these amounts and I am both amazed and stupefied that people dare to churn/dish out such numbers and there are people, too who believe in such illusionary numbers. Nepal is, reportedly, to be benefited to the tune of Rs 45 billion 870 million from electricity by building it in conjunction with Purnagiri. Similarly, if the re-regulating dam is built at Rupaligarh, instead, then the benefit is supposed to be Rs 34 billion 500 million. Moreover, Nepal’s benefit from carbon trading is supposed to be Rs 4 billion 420 million. Furthermore, the benefits from fishery and irrigation are supposed to amount to Rs 16 billion and Rs 5.69 billion respectively.
Justifying his intention to take up matters related to this in his imminent trip to India, Prime Minister Nepal, too, has parroted the amount of Rs 45 billion over and over and so has the energy minister. These numbers have been repeated so many times by the media ad nauseaum that people, unfortunately, seemingly have started to believe. Even a person like Dr Ram Sharan Mahat is reported to have opined that it will be unfortunate if the project does not get built, citing the same numbers. Therefore, I am trying to find out who is responsible for these bunkum numbers. You want to know why? Simply because, in my considered opinion, that person is either thoroughly incompetent or s/he has done so with some malafide intention, eventually designed to have Nepal and people of Nepal taken for a ride, which is not a new phenomenon (there are precedents set by Koshi through Tanakpur Treaties and agreements for West Seti through Arun III projects).
Revenue from Royalties
People are already talking as if Nepal will be benefited by monies in these amounts by simply having the project built. The only money Nepal stands to receive as such after getting the project built is from royalties; capacity royalty at the rate of Rs 100 per kW and energy royalty of 2% under current Nepal law. From Nepal’s 50% share of Pancheshwar and Rupaligarh (capacity 3,360 MW, generating 6,161 GWh), Nepal will become entitled to the total royalty of Rs 793.5 million (not even one billion and very far from reported Rs 34.5 billion!) if the energy is sold at US 4.95 ¢/kWh - the rate at which West Seti is set to export energy to India.
If the re-regulating dam is built at Purnagiri, Nepal’s 50% share will be 3,740 MW generating 8,192 GWh and the total royalty from this project will amount to Rs 982 million only (tantalizingly close to a billion!); not Rs 45 billion, though. The person coming up with these bunkum number (fantastic ones at that!) has used Rs 5.60/kWh as the sale price of electricity which is higher by 50% compared to the rate I have used. However, I have a justification for doing so. As the cost of generation is, reportedly, Rs 2.62, the bulk rate for domestic consumption should not include a mark up of more than 40%. Similarly, if the electricity is to be exported, there is no possibility of India agreeing to pay more than west seti rate.
To conclude, these amounts (Rs 45.87 billion or Rs 34.5 billion) is high by a magnitude and our PM and energy minister and their ilk are getting excited for no reason simply because a misguided person (or an incompetent one) has come up with these illusionary numbers. I request your active help in rectifying the wrong impression caused as such, if at all possible.
Return on Investment
It is also possible that the reference to these numbers could have been made from the perspective of return on investment. I have analyzed this aspect too. I have come to learn that it will cost $ 2,980 million for Pancheshwar and Rupaligarh combination. In that case Nepal will have to invest $ 372 million in equity and raise a debt of $ 1,117.5 million to mobilize her share of the initial investment amounting to $ 1,490 million. At the reported rate of return on investment of 25% Nepal will earn Rs 6.98 billion only. It needs to be remembered that to earn such return one doesn’t need to sign unequal treaty like Mahakali Treaty and also invest. Businessmen in Nepal are known to earn return on investment at rates higher than this in certain ventures. Besides, Norwegians and Americans (who have since divested) have invested in hydropower in Nepal are earning at rates higher than this. Nepali investors have invested both in Nepal and India to earn similar returns. Therefore, if the hype being created was in the form of return on investment then it is completely misplaced on two counts. One, the numbers thrown around are high by a magnitude and getting a return on investment at such rates is normal and natural phenomenon; there is no need for banner headline and surrender other vital interests of Nepal (I will refer to one of these below).
Moreover, you will recall that Nepal is about to borrow $ 45 million from ADB to invest in west seti project and, from it one can easily infer that Nepal will not be able to spare $ 372 million (equivalent to Rs 28 billion) to invest in equity of this project. If Nepal has to borrow to invest in equity (besides having to borrow the debt part of $ 1,117.5 million) as such then instead of earning a return Nepal will become entangled in a debt trap. I don’t even feel like analyzing its impact.
Benefit from Carbon Revenue
As mentioned above, it was also reported that Nepal could earn Rs 4.24 billion from carbon revenue. I have two comments with regard to this, too. One, if the electricity is used in Nepal, there won’t be any carbon offset, thus precluding the prospect of revenue from carbon trading. Conversely, carbon trading could become a reality if Nepal’s share is exported, thus depriving people of far western development region from the much needed electricity. Even on this tangent the potential for Nepal receiving such an amount is very remote as the carbon offset takes place in India and, unlike some people in Nepal, Indians would never be willing to surrender something that they are entitled to. They would have been forced to cede the right to this source of revenue if something was stipulated in the Mahakali Treaty in this respect. But, unfortunately, the treaty is silent with regard to India having to sacrifice such revenue stream in favor of Nepal. Had clear stipulation been made about it in the Treaty then India would have been forced to divert it to Nepal. So the talk about Nepal benefiting from carbon revenue too is misleading. From the way things are going on now, I am starting to believe that all these rumor mongering were designed to make fools out of politicos, bureaucrats and people of Nepal.
I am certain that the reported irrigation benefit of Rs 5.69 too is dubious. However, I don’t wish to my invest time in analyzing this number as this benefit, if it were to occur, Nepal is entitled to every paisa of it. But I would like to draw your attention to what Nepal stands to lose.
At the time of signing this treaty people were assured of 50% water from this river, deemed to be a boundary river against the spirit of Sugauli Treaty of 1816. Even the Sankalpa Prastav passed by the joint session of the parliament reiterated that Nepal is entitled to 50% water. However, unfortunately, after implementation of this project only 93,000 hectare of land will be irrigated in Nepal and 1.6 million hectares in India; a clear case of breach of the principle of 50%. It has come to my knowledge that Nepal will have to sacrifice 86.5 km2 of its land to build the reservoir; amounting to 43% (57% submergence is supposed to happen in India). From this perspective, Nepal is entitled to irrigation of 43% land not just 5.49%. In view of this India needs recompense for 37.54% irrigation facility that India uses in addition to the share she is entitled to. If it is to be monetized at the rate South Africa is paying Lesotho, Nepal deserves Rs 15.17 billion per annum. However, to my dismay, nobody is talking about this issue and looks like the corrupt politicos and bureaucrats of Nepal are happy to surrender this right while chasing the mirage of Rs 45 billion.
Misguided people who fail to comprehend these important issues brand people like yours truly anti development. People like me are simply trying to ensure that Nepal is not short changed out of what she is legitimately entitled to. I am sure that the readers too wish the same for our motherland.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Water resources will be the next contentious issue in a federal Nepal
Nepal’s forests are no longer a natural resource to be tapped for development, water is.
Only 12 per cent of Nepal’s 4 million hectares of arable land is irrigated, that too mostly during the rainy season. Most of the rivers are snow-fed, so if we construct reservoir and canal network, we can irrigate land in the hills and Tarai all year round. Farms can have three, even four harvests, a year. There is no need for Nepal to be food-deficit.
Water resource has multi-dimensional utilization (irrigation, drinking, transportation, and tourism, industrial) and, therefore, it shouldn’t just be understood as a source of energy. We can earn more from rafting based tourism than generating hydroelectricity from the Bhote Kosi, for instance. Kosi, Gandaki, Karnali including Bagmati can be used as waterways, the cheapest means of transport.
Nepali leaders often talk about the country’s hydropower potential, and dream of exporting it to India. Even if hydro-electricity is generated, its most productive use would be domestic, to power industries and generate employment locally. By exporting raw power to India, we can earn some cash in the form of royalties of under 3 percent which will not help domestic economic growth.
In a federal system, there is a bigger chance that federal units will independently negotiate to export power to India. Electricity rich provinces can sell power to those who pay the most. Most of the Nepal’s hydro-energy sites are in the mid-west, which generate over 300 MW but only half of it is consumed in the region.
At present, the central development region generates over 250 MW, of which almost all power is consumed here. But the eastern region generates only 14 MW but this is the region which consumes the highest amount of power. The mid west will export to the eastern region only if it is ready to pay the amount it demands or else it will export to India for better price.
Melamchi is in future Tamsaling province. If the Newa province wants to bring Melamchi water, it should be ready to pay the price Tamsling demands. Kathmanduites who are paying Rs 50 per month for water, will have to pay a lot more as the price of water. If Newa fails to pay the price, Tamsaling is free to sell it to whichever province pays the price.
Nepal Mandala has no potential for hydro electricity. If it is
declared a separate province, either people will have to live in the
dark or import the power at a high price.
For energy and regulated water, we need to build reservoirs on our rivers, which will inundate land in the fertile valleys. The upper riparian province will therefore be deprived of using the water, and the lower riparian will benefit. A federal Nepal will face the same issues we now currently face vis-à-vis India about river basin development. How will it be possible to irrigate Jhapa without submerging valleys in the Limbuwan province?
When two provinces compete, a third province can benefit, and these disputes can weaken the nation. Decision on water resources should therefore not be devolved to the provincial units but be the prerogative of the centre, like foreign policy and defense.
But the proposed ethnic-based provinces will not accept this idea. Nepal has already signed the ILO Convention 169, which allows control of the indigenous communities over the natural resources. In other words, this convention goes against the argument that there should be central jurisdiction over water resources.
The bottom line is that a federal system will not be conducive to Nepal’s national interest with regards to sharing benefits from water resources, and it will affect our development process.
This opinion piece is a translated adaptation of the original printed in NAGARIK on AUGUST 9, 2009 and published in Nepali Times of 14-20 August 2009 (#464)
Saturday, August 08, 2009
A political risk consultant in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dr. Marks recently authored the entry, “Maoism in South and Southeast Asia,” in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World (1750-Present); Peter M. Stearns, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, March 2008).
Since their loss of the government in May of this year, the Maoists have threatened almost daily to launch another round of street violence if their demands are not met. They now have made good on those threats, building upon their continued use of terrorism beneath the surface to launch an open round of struggle designed to bring down the government. Put in the words of Prachanda (as per Republica): “The Maoist CC meeting decided to hit the streets for the sake of ‘civilian supremacy’ a Maoist-led national unity government, national independence, a new constitution, and the peace process.”
That statement says it all. One might wonder: What if the present political line-up continues to vote, as it has, for another, non-Maoist party to lead the government? Or to carry on as if Nepal indeed is independent, is involved in a peace process, and is writing a constitution, with only the Maoists determined to keep all of those things from being realities? “We don’t want to go back to the jungle as the regressive forces have wished,” answers Prachanda gravely.
The problem is that “back to the jungle” has never been the plan. Just what the Maoists are up to has been stated time and again, most recently by Central Committee member (and Mrs. Bhattarai), Hisila Yami, in a op-ed published by Kantipur located at the following URL: http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=208193.
Maoist Game Plan
The article contains the Maoist "game plan," spelled out very clearly. Maoists speak openly but in a language which utilizes "code." All one must do is decode, and the course of action appears. In fact, the same terminology can be found by perusing the pronouncements of any of the Maoist movements which have left their bloody fingerprints on the post-World War II pages of history.
Particularly interesting, though, is the striking similarity between the Nepali Maoist formulations and those of their Philippine counterparts. Though one might suspect plagiarism, the reality is simply that the ultimate sources are the same if one is using Maoist texts. They draw upon an eclectic group for inspiration but overwhelmingly Lenin and Stalin.
What unfolds in Ms. Yami’s discussion is the contents of the recent Maoist leadership debate on how to proceed. It's an old debate when it comes to Maoist insurgency: Do you mine beneath the opposition's castle, ultimately bringing it down with a charge from below? Or do you charge the gates, because you know the enemy within is weak and of limited will to resist?
Ms. Yami -- speaking for her husband's (and presumably Prachanda’s) faction -- recognizes that attempting to seize power now through overt mechanisms (“back to the jungle”) will certainly result in disaster -- and probably Indian invasion. Consequently, what she advocates is the classic "tunnel under them" or united front approach. The "new democratic republic" she mentions is the normal Maoist vehicle for doing this.
"A new democratic republic" sounds innocuous, but it is "Maoist" for a united front government. This is a government of like-minded forces brought together to oppose particular issues but later discarded when it is time to "move on." Such an approach was called "salami tactics" (from slicing the salami) in the 1960s and was used by the Soviets in Eastern Europe and, of course, the Maoists everywhere.
The tactic is simple: you get “useful idiots” to throw in with you to support tactical issues, such as "civilian supremacy." Who would be opposed to that? But the point is to use the issue to neutralize a particular foe, to achieve a particular end. The army, for instance, as has been demonstrated, remains the last real obstacle to the Maoists’ being able to do whatever they want. Neither the police nor the Armed Police will oppose them. They will simply fall in line, particularly because their leadership will be replaced with people who favor the Maoists. Thus, the need of the moment is to use the lofty goal to rally a coalition capable of neutralizing the army.
Once the particular issue at hand has been achieved, however, a new "crisis" issue will emerge. Then, the Maoists will seek to isolate the new foe – with the “issue” often explicitly invented to place that foe in its precarious position. The “Maoist discussion before this discussion” – on which foe was primary – centered around just this issue. At the time, Nepali Congress (NC) was seen as the key obstacle (in cahoots with the army, to be sure), because the UML was playing the “useful idiot” role.
Turns the worm, the UML has thrown sand in the gears, siding with both NC and the nefarious “still RNA at heart” (as the Maoists see it, especially in their not-so-secret conclaves).
What must be done, then, is to form the new coalition – their “Maoist-led national unity government” – to isolate and eliminate NC, UML, and NA. Gradually, by splitting, splitting, and splitting ("slicing the salami"), they will eliminate their rivals until the only people left are Maoists. Nobel Prize-winning author, the late Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, lays this out exactly in his famous work, Lenin in Zurich (1975).
A Republic is Not a Republic
A "people's federal democratic republic" (see Ms. Yami’s text) is but an interim step to the "new democratic republic" and the eventual "people's republic." Ms. Yami has spelled it out clearly: the need at present is to mobilize "anti-feudal" and "anti-imperialist" forces (feudal forces are those who favor parliamentary democracy and the market; imperialists are, in pride of evil place, the Americans and their friends, especially the dastardly Indians). How to mobilize these forces? By giving them the Maoist version of "federalism," a passing out of linguistic, ethnic, and economic goodies which exist in theory but will prove disastrous in fact. Long before realization is reached, the Maoists will have moved on and consolidated complete power.
Ironically, since the technique always works when faced with the sort of handicapped thinking one encounters in a particular slice of Nepal's chattering classes, what Ms. Yami is so angry about is the hard-core Maoists within her own party, those who want to "go for it." This is the group that challenges Prachanda and wants to use concerted street violence and assassination to sweep away the opposition.
A version of this is in play. The killing and the threats are daily reported in Nepali media. The unsavory actions of the Maoists at the Balaju Industrial Area are ample testimony to the manner in which violence has been woven into the warp and woof of every action undertaken by the “CPN(M)” (whatever its new name, it remains the same crew). So, too, do numbers of Nepali politicians bear witness to the actions of left wing fascism as they flee the country to escape the kukris, beatings, and kidnappings of the YCL storm troopers (yes, they’ve reflagged – name changes are meaningless).
And such sub-rosa violence is working. Yet, for the hard-core, none of this has given the Party power. The army remains intact and will fight; and India -- and even the most feckless and fickle of the foreign presence – seem willing to support the present government. Ultimately, though, it's an Indian show, and the Bhattarai faction is well aware that an IPKF would end the Maoists. They are not LTTE.
Faced with such a situation, Ms. Yami is surely correct that the proper course is to walk softly and carry a big kukri. Unfortunately, to keep the factions aligned, Prachanda has agreed to go to the well one more time, to once again threaten and bluster in the expectation that capitulation will result.
How well Prachanda has calculated will determine the future of Nepal. By now, a sizable portion of the public is wise to the Maoist strategy. It is unlikely he could field the same lineup as he so often threatens for a Janaandolan III. Nevertheless, he has mobilized the lumpens and the clueless in sufficient numbers to make a go of it.
By “discuss civilian supremacy,” Prachanda is not advancing the plain English meaning of the phrase. What he and the Maoists mean is this: if the government will once again give in, declare that only the prime minister can hire and fire, all will be well.
And it will be – for the Maoists. They will provoke the next round of crisis, put together the united front necessary to resume government leadership, then use that position to eliminate their few remaining foes. Dictatorship, when it comes, will be implemented in the name of “rule of law.”
Lenin in State and Revolution (p.73) put it bluntly: “…[T]heir resistance must be broken by force; it is clear that where there is suppression there is also violence, there is no liberty, no democracy.”
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