Nepal’s Ongoing Electricity Crisis

The Metropolitan Police in Kathmandu had organized a press conference for 6pm on January 3, 2010. It was a big occasion. They were to announce the arrest of Yunus Ansari and seven others on the charge of counterfeiting 24 million Indian rupees (US$500,000). But just as a police superintendent was briefing journalists… the lights went out. Sadly, this has become a familiar sight in Nepal. Although Nepal is one of the richest country in the world in terms of water resources, most of the country sees 11 hours per day of load-shedding. This means that almost half the time people don’t have the use of lights, appliances and other devices that require electricity.

Don't let the lights go out

This has been particularly problematic for crime. Only the central police headquarters in Kathmandu has a designated alternative energy source, whereas all the district police offices operate with the help of candles or emergency lights.

On top of that, the police have constant troubles charging their communication sets. High crime zones remain in darkness. The jails function with the help of candles, and the CCTV cameras are turned off. It’s no surprise that crime rates are rising fast.

Bigyan Raj Sharma, a Deputy Inspector General on the Nepal police force, said that to fight the load-shedding problem, police have increased the number of officers on the streets. He admitted that load-shedding was making Nepal’s people “psychologically terrorized.” The situation is taking its toll on Nepal's small and medium-sized businesses, which have to seek alternative energy sources that make their services more costly.

Despite government efforts, load-shedding is only getting worse – due, in large part, to the environment. According Nepal’s electricity authority, a few more load-shedding hours may actually be added this winter as water levels in the rivers are going down.

- Rajneesh Bhandari