June 6, 2023, Tuesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Free electricity pledged in election manifestos

The Nepal Weekly
November 8, 2022

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

General Election for Federal Parliament and Provincial Assemblies for the second time after five years tenure of the earlier one is all set to take place in a week and a few days. The election for both levels will take place on November 20, 2022. Proportional representatives will also be declared after completion of vote counting.

The main parties have launched their manifestos. Each of them had portioned out ‘dreamy’ fruits for people to get in the second five year’s tenure of the forthcoming Parliament. Their manifestos distributed for earlier elections were also much lucrative. But the parties did not produce satisfactory performance. That means their commitments do not bear an appropriate credibility.

However, they have shown their concern to electricity for domestic usages, industries and transportation.

As a matter of fact electricity is related to the climate change aspects reduces use of fossil fuel to reduce climate change effects. For Nepal, this is important for reduce import of fossil fuels to reduce wider gap in balance of trade and maintain public health mainly.

The parties have committed free electricity for domestic usage to support avoid in house air pollution and consequences of untimely death of 24,000 people annually due various air pollution related diseases.  

CPN-UML has announced to give free electricity up to 50 units. It is mentioned that 50 units of electricity will be provided free of cost in the rainy season and 30 units in winter.

Nepali Congress (NC) has mentioned for free electricity up to 50 KW per month per family. It also mentions that the installed capacity of electricity generation will be increased to 10,000 MW and per capita consumption of electricity will be expanded to 1200 KWh

The NC has announced to encourage the consumption of electricity in industrial areas and make charging stations widely available to promote electric vehicles across the country.

The Maoist Party had said that within 5 years, all households and consumers will receive quality and quality electricity. The party says that 30 KWh of electricity should be freely provided against the current practice of providing 20 kWh per month. Similarly it stressed on free electricity for irrigation use.

Nepal Communist Party Unified Socialist, in its manifesto has mentioned that 200 units of electricity will be made free of cost to each family. 

Moreover, it is worth to consider that how far the commitments can be realistic in the future on the basis of electricity development, revenue management, distribution management and needs and habits of the target users.

Some experts opined that most of the plans cannot be turned to reality as there are hurdles and constraints in finance and technology mainly. Similarly terrain and topography of the country is equally challenging for all people to get connected to the national grid while the government claims that 94 per cent of households have been connected so far.

Earlier, last year, the government has announced to give free 20 units of electricity per month to the consumers who have 5 ampere capacity connection. Their number is said to around 2.5 million.

Moreover, all parties mentioned about promotion of electric vehicles and provide more facilities to grow it faster. Rastriya Swatantra Party has mentioned this as an exclusive agenda in its manifesto saying zero tax facility will be implemented. It also has said facilities to conversion will also be supported with financing facilities as well. It further says sales of fossil fuel vehicles will be made zero within five years.

Only a few words are spent for energy mix and energy security in the political parties’ manifesto for the elections of 2022. They need to deal on Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Biogas, and Biomass energy as well while keeping the value of hydropower at top priority.

The development and supports to private entrepreneurs should also need to be prioritised agenda of the political parties. Similarly, electricity generated by renewable energy resources need to be consumed in the country in domestic uses, industries and transportation. At present condition, the government and other institutions are talking more to electric cooking promoting mainly induction cooktops and grow electric vehicles to consume the electricity generated in the country.

The policies are not much matched to the requirement of users and energy supplies. The electric cooking needs consumers’ households to be good for electric cooking, quality electricity supply to them and their domestic technical preparedness. Similarly, electric vehicle charging stations are being developed but in limited number can be encouraging for the time being for the electric vehicles owned by individuals and institutions for limited uses. While electric vehicle for public transportation has been just to mention in the manifestos without taking consideration on the aspects associated to it.

Some political parties are found even mentioning developing of green hydrogen projects as well.

The points raised by parties are interesting to go through, but these documents cannot impress people as the reality-based commitments.