Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Nepal declares ‘national power crisis’

AFP , KATHMANDU

Nepal’s Maoist-run government has declared a “national power crisis” and warned that blackouts in the impoverished country will increase to at least 16 hours per day, officials said yesterday.

Nepal is struggling to recover from a civil war waged by the Maoists who now govern the country after winning elections earlier this year, and the Himalayan country can currently meet only around 50 percent of its electricity needs.

“We had no other alternatives than to declare a national power crisis because there is a severe shortage of electricity,” Bishnu Poudel, the minister for water resources, said on Thursday evening.

The government will import more electricity from neighboring India as well as set up diesel-powered generators and attempt to attract more investment in hydroelectricity projects, the minister said.

“It will still take at least five years to free the country from power shortages if everything works out as planned,” Poudel said.

An official from the Nepal Electricity Authority said electricity demand had been outstripping supply for years in the mountainous country dotted with Himalayan rivers, which have massive untapped potential for hydropower.

“In the last eight or nine years the demand for electricity has been increasing by around 10 percent per year, but we have not been able to bring in new hydropower projects,” said Sher Singh Bhat, spokesman for the state-run Nepal Electricity Authority said yesterday.

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