Look No Further

Bookworm Issue 111 Jan, 2011
Text by Anil Chitrakar / Photo: ECS Media

Nepal made such a great start to developing its hydropower resources 100 years ago; and then what happened? To find out all you ever wanted to know about the projects, prospects, people and places about Nepal’s hydropower, you need not go to any ministry, authority or library. All the information has been presented in one place. “Hydropower Nepal” has been written by Khadga Bahadur Bisht and published by the Independent Power Producers’ Association, Nepal. The cover of this well illustrated book declares that it celebrates 100 years of hydroelectricity in Nepal.

The book is really well organized. Between Bisht, who wrote the book and took most of the photos, and Wordscape that designed it, it is an excellent coffee table “conversation piece”. Given the potential Nepal has in tapping its immense hydropower and the fact that the country is in the dark most of the day and night makes it a very interesting conversation indeed. The first page of the book has a copy of the only national daily a hundred years ago, Gorkhapatra dated Sambat 1968 Jestha 16, Monday, and the headline reads “Amazing Light Chandra Batti”. That was 100 years ago and the Pharping 500 KW hydro plant was named Chandra Batti after the then Prime Minister Chandra SJB Rana.

What then happened to this great head start for a country that is obsessed with becoming rich and prosperous by tapping the seemingly unlimited water that flows down the Himalayas? What went wrong in the process? What did Nepal do right and are there lessons for the next 100 years? You cannot afford not to have this book because you will want to know. You will want to be part of any conversation, meetings, decisions and initiatives in the power sector. Simply cannot afford to be left out. The book will bring you upto date and put you in a unique position of knowing the past and hence help lead the future.

The book covers many aspects of the power sector in Nepal. From the very basics of power generation to information about the rivers of Nepal, to CSR associated with hydropower development, all are included in the book. The book takes you into all the existing hydro plants in Nepal and takes a closer look at the great Himalayas that are the source of all the water Nepal has. The annex even includes an inventory of Nepali rivers and the Nepali hydro policy. Really, you may need to look no further if you have a copy of this comprehensive book. Author Khadga Bahadur Bisht feels that “the great Himalayas and perennial rivers originating from them are so dear to us that they generate deep emotions.”

A unique feature about this book is also the fact that the private sector has decided to publish it. In a country where people are so used to seeing publications by international agencies and donors, it is refreshing that the Independent Power Producer’s Association, Nepal (IPPAN) has come forth to do the book. The fact that the logo of the government and donors are missing is so positive in terms of where the leadership for developing hydropower will come from in the next century. This is not to undermine their critical role; but just to emphasize that Nepal’s private sector is ready to, and must lead, this sector.

The best aspect of this book is that it inspires. I have no doubt in my mind that I studied physics, engineering and energy planning after seeing a similar book about other countries. When young Nepalis go through this book they will see why we do not have to live in poverty or seek jobs elsewhere. They will see the true images of the resourceful country that has been poorly managed. They will see what has been done already and what needs to be done in the years ahead. Please get a copy of this book for the young people in your office and home.

Nepal’s water resource is one of those non-negotiables if we are to get the millions out of their current desperate lives. No one would have to seek jobs in the Gulf because the sector can, and will, hire so many people. For this to happen, we need to educate ourselves. This book is a huge resource for this purpose.