Feature: Power theft triggers frequent blackout
Dec 4, 2013 - English.news.cn - xinhuanet.com
KATHMANDU, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 17 million people, or 60 percent of Nepal's
total population, live without electricity.
It is caused not only by the deficiency in power supply but also by widespread
theft by illegal users across the country. In fact, stealing electricity has
become a national hobby and a way of life.
Because of the pervasive electricity theft Nepal is chronically short of power.
Power cuts due to load shedding which happens when demand exceeds supply are
regular occurrences in Nepal and the problem is likely to get worse since development
leads to greater energy consumption.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the sole entity for generating and
distributing power in the country, has taken measures to curb electricity pilferage.
"We have set up a special department to fight electricity theft and leakage.
We have reduced the incidence by 2 percent this year. Our target is to bring
it down to less than 24 percent by June 2014," Arjun Kumar Karki, managing
director of NEA, told Xinhua.
Electricity theft in the country could result in a loss of almost a third
of the total power generated. Although there are no hard figures, the government
estimates that it costs Nepal billions of rupees every year.
The consequences of the crime far outweigh any of the short- term benefits.
Sometimes electricity thieves are electrocuted or end up harming innocent people.
The problem persists because identifying and confirming individual offenders
is time-consuming and costly. It's a constant game of cat and mouse since offenders
often deny the charges filed against them.
While the NEA has waged a campaign against power theft, the people's attitude
towards electricity theft in the country remains largely apathetic, particularly
in Nepal's growing urban communities.
"Electricity leakage and stealing is more frequent in semi- urban areas.
To discourage energy theft we have raised the load- shedding in the areas where
electricity leakage is very high, notably in the Terai region," Karki
According to officials, nearly 60 percent of the electricity in the Tarai
is stolen; other regions in Nepal have even higher pilferage rates.
Nepal's geography and the isolation of many communities pose great challenges
to the government's rural electrification program.
Kathmandu has suffered electricity shortages for several years. The situation
was aggravated by an explosive population increase, poor urban planning and
the real estate boom. Power lines hang precariously over congested roads in
the city and residents endure up to 16 hours of power cuts a day in winter.
People in Kathmandu check their load-shedding schedule before using computers,
watching TV, recharging batteries, or doing anything else which requires an
electric socket. The schedule changes daily and power rotation is a normal
occurrence throughout the city.
During the recent Constituent Assembly elections, all major parties have placed
economic agenda at the top of their respective manifestos. Most promised to
end load-shedding in the next three to five years.
Measures are being taken to eliminate electricity theft and ease Nepal's chronic
The NEA is aiming to bring down load-shedding to 12 hours this winter by getting
more power from India. Nepal is now facing a shortfall of 350 MW to meet the
population's power requirement as existing capacity is just around 700 MW.