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KALI GANDAKI ‘A’ HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT
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Kali Gandaki is a hydro power project located in Nepal that is suitably named after the river it is located in. the dam, which is the largest in Nepal to this day is located in the Gandaki River. The power plant being the largest in the country has a capacity of 144 W. the project which had been proposed in the early 1990’s, began construction in 1996. Various engineers both local; but mostly imported worked on the dam for the next years, completing the project in 2002. The World Bank declared it a success, despite the various challenges that the encountered in distribution and production of power. Before the implementation of the project, it is important to note that Nepal was in the biggest crisis where electricity was concerned.
Already a poor country by many standards, the economic situation of the country is the early 1990’s was something less desired. Media often reported blackouts which left business with many losses and homes in darkness not just for hours, sometimes for days. The losses incurred by business forced closure of many doors. On the other hand, entrepreneurs quickly lost interest in the ventures they had undertaken. The result was that the Gross national Product of Nepal, went to its lowest. The government attempted many alternatives which proved to be less than sustainable. Importation of electricity which is common for third world countries could not be achieved since the country lacked resources for the same. The country was facing what looked like a bleak situation, one which held the international community in great concern before the proposal for Kali Gandaki came into the picture.
The project was born out of a need to bridge the current demand for electricity and the supply of the same. In Nepal, electricity was becoming a precious product which cost the citizens too much and yet the supply was unreliable. the government was desperate to find a reliable source of electricity. the government had also noted that in future the demand for electricity would increase, making an already bad situation even worse, (Dhital 2015). based on this, project intiators came up with the following objetcives.
Improve the supply of electriticity. all objectives of the project were based on this broad objective, where the government hoped and worked towards increasing the supply of electriticy. constanct electric disruptions were all due to a poor supply. The current supply of the electricity could barely cover the county. (Nepal et al. 2006) noted that for some rural areas of Nepal, electricity was something that was non-existent. Homes and business survived on generators and other alternative electricity sources. Unfortunately this often proved quite expensive and therefore unsustainable a situation that translated to closure of the businesses and alternative power sources for the homes.
In the proposal presented in 1996 by the Nepal government to private institutions and foreign governments while seeking support to make the project a success, the following were the objectives cited:
- Assist in meeting the demand for electricity at least cost in an environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable manner.
The concern for the environment sustainability has been the forefront concern in ever electricity project in many countries. There are some countries who have had to set aside billion dollar projects because they are no longer environmentally sound. Other projects have displaced thousands, taking up native land of individuals and while benefiting the country, they often leave a trail of despair. This situations have led to increased criticism and sometimes closure of such projects. Hence, while the Nepal government was determined to make changes in the supply of electricity, they were also determined in ensuring that such changes came at little if any cost to the community and the environment, in this case the Gandaki River.
- strengthen the institutional and financial (management capacity) position of the NEA
The World Bank and other international institutions have drawn concern with major projects undertaken in the third world countries. Such projects are often prone to mismanagement and corruptions, a situation which often renders the projects worthless. The Nepal government, desired to begin at the early stages by strengthening the management of the project.
- improve cost recovery to promote efficiency in power consumption
This is in terms of resources that have been put into the project. In essence, the project should be able to run itself without requiring additional resources.
As with any public project, Kali Gandaki project faced many challenges many of which critics have felt delayed the onset of the project.
Lack of resources: Nepal is a poor country in itself, a third world country that has often been plagued by natural calamities. The country is currently experiencing an inflation rate of 9.9%. In early 90’s the government spending was out of control. The country lacked enough resources to even start the project. The country’s citizens were in abject poverty, majority of them below the World Bank’s $1 line of poverty. The project therefore seemed like more of a utopian, non-existent project that is not only difficult but will never be achieved (Chandler 1991). In fact major government critics often cited that the money used in for.............
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