Washing away of five towers on Nepal side led to the power cuts

Washing away of five towers on Nepal side led to the power cuts

Kathmandu: After accusing India of cutting off its power supply following the Kosi river floods, Nepal now says the main reason for its shortage of electricity was the destruction of five transmission towers.

The Kosi, a tributary of the Ganga that runs through Nepal and India, began to breach its embankments in early August, resulting in massive floods that killed scores of people and marooned thousands on both sides of the border.

A Nepal power industry official says that the five transmission towers connected to the Indian grid were also washed away, disrupting imports.

“Regarding the power import, there was no problem from the Indian side," said Rajeshwar Man Sulpya, director of the power trade department at Nepal Electricity Authority, or NEA, the largest power sector utility in the country.

The Press Trust of India reported from Kathmandu on 12 September that the Nepal government was “seeking to point a finger at India" for the disruption of power supply.

“It was the five towers on the Nepal side connected to the Indian grid on the Kataiya-Duhabi 132kV transmission line that have been washed away by the floods. This is the major reason why we cannot import the required amount of power from India," Sulpya added.

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These five towers that were constructed by the Nepal government are to be rebuilt for the power transmission from India to resume. It is not an easy task.

“It is very difficult to know how much it will cost as these areas are still under water. My transmission line department is still confused about the way to go," Sulpya added.

“There is shortage of power and we are going for load shedding. Nepal government never blamed India," he added. Nepal currently faces power cuts up to 37 hours a week.

Mint had earlier reported on 19 September that Nepal’s aim of boosting power trade with India may be short-circuited unless it strengthens its power transmission infrastructure.

During his visit to India, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, invited investments in his country’s hydropower sector, pledging to work towards harnessing 10,000MW of power in the next 10 years.

There are currently only two links of 132kV each, connecting India and Nepal. While existing transmission lines are inadequate to transmit the electricity flowing between the two neighbours, work on the proposed 220kV transmission link is yet to show progress.

The new link is expected to transmit around 500-600MW of power between the two nations through four dedicated 220kV transmission lines.

Nepal has an installed capacity of 617MW, of which around 569.87MW is hydropower. Although Nepal has 83,000MW of hydropower potential, it is facing a shortage of 100MW, which is expected to increase to around 300MW in the coming winter.

“We have not been able to generate resources to develop hydropower potential and not been able to attract foreign resources," said Arjun Kumar Karki, managing director at NEA. There are two mechanisms available for the India-Nepal power trade. One is throughan agreement drawn up by the Indo-Nepal power exchange committee and the other through a commercial arrangement between India-owned power trading solutions provider PTC India Ltd and NEA.

While the exchange contributes around 65MW at Rs3.50 per unit tariff, the balance 25MW is based on commercial rates. “The power supply through the exchange mechanism is more of confidence-building measures than power trade," said a senior PTC executive on condition of anonymity.