By Prajwal Shrestha
Indian ambassador Ranjit Rae returned home yesterday after completing his tenure in Nepal. For the last two/three weeks, he was very busy in attending farewell receptions organised in his honour. The leaders of the Madheshi parties were found competing against each other to organize farewell receptions, reports say. In some receptions, among those leaders who have compared their defeat as the defeat of India, envoy Rae disclosed that Nepal has become load-shedding free nation due to the power supplied by India. However, he complained that Pushpakamal Dahal was conservative to give credit to India for ending load-shedding in Nepal. Yes, it is true that due to the Indian power supply, Nepal has become load-shedding free nation. Indeed, Nepal has huge potential of generating hydropower, yet, Nepal’s load-shedding has ended because of import of power from India, which is very much shameful. And ending load-shedding by importing power from India is not a commendable job of the government. We need electricity generated from within our own country, which will help to prosper Nepal, subsidize import of petro-products, reduce production cost of our industrial products which will contribute to narrowing our international trade deficit.
Hydropower is our lifeline as well as economic lifeline of the nation. At any cost, we have to construct hydropower projects on our own. In strategic infrastructure projects, we should not depend on Indian investments. We should be clear that India doesn’t want Nepal becoming a prosperous country, instead, India wants always Nepal should remain as an India dependent country. The other thing is that although we have the potential to export electricity to India, we have to wipe-out this idea considering the attitude of the Indians in the policymaking level.In 1996, Nepal and India signed the Mahakali Treaty. During that time, our political leaders were distributing dreams to the Nepali people that after the treaty, Nepal will earn money by exporting electricity to India. Our currency value will be double than the value of the Indian currency, they were claiming. Much water has flown down in the Mahakali River after the Treaty, yet, in these long years, a detailed project report has not been prepared. This is an example of the Indian mentality. The other thing is that India is eyeing on our water not electricity.
We should not forget that our traders are facing hurdles even in export of vegetables to India. As our economy is going down very fast and our foreign trade is towards a very negative trend, we should give first priority on establishing industries/projects which will substitute foreign imports. We are spending dollars to import petro-products. If we develop electric railway, city buses, small vehicles, we can reduce import of petro-products. In this regard, the government should prepare projects as per the demands of the country.
Yes, we may be able to export our products in India and international markets in the future, however, first of all, special consideration has to be given on substituting imports to give proper trend to our economy. It is very much shameful that billions of rupees worth agro-products of an agricultural country arebeing imported, from abroad. We are spending billions of rupees in import of fertilizer. Why not think about becoming self-reliant in these areas?
The previous government led by KP Sharma Oli was focusing on many areas including importing e-buses for mass transportation, compulsory installation of solar panel in new buildings, locating natural gas for cooking, signing transit treaty with China, importing petro-products from China, among others. The present government has remained silent on these agendas. Nepal is going to benefit enormously if an agreement issigned on the China initiated One Belt One Road (OBOR) project but it seems, the leaders in power are hesitated in dealing with China, our northern neighbour. Yes, we know, the present leaderships have totally surrendered with the leaders in India. This has become an open secret to all. Even after being exposed so badly, they are in a process of pleasing their Indian bosses just to grab power. What are they doing for the nation and the people? Nepal has remained an India-locked country due to our geographical compulsion but science and technology have transformed the world and now Nepal is no more an India locked country as avenues are open to trade with China. By maintaining equidistance relations with both the giant neighbours, Nepal can achieve economic prosperity rather than surrendering meekly to the Indians.If we continue to surrender, even an envoy will try to humiliate us by saying, “We are providing electricity but they (Pushpakamal Dahal and others) are enlightening their name!” How far will the leaders and others be humiliated perhaps Dahal and Sher Bahadur Deuba know!