KATHMANDU, May 24: At a time when climate change and alternative energy are high priority for donor agencies, the Ministry of Environment is not at all happy about the likely shifting of the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) to the Ministry of Energy while the latter is quite eager to embrace the change.
Dr Keshab Man Shakya, who was appointed environment minister just five days ago, told Republica that he has been receiving an excessive number of phone calls regarding the issue since his first day in office. He has, however, confirmed that the matter is still a work in progress.
“No sooner did I become minister than I began to receive phone calls one after next. I have come to learn that this is a matter of concern for many,” he said.
Shakya sees the development as being in response to the political interests of some political leaders as, according to him, APEC´s coming under the Ministry of Energy will leave it in shadow. “They are trying to drag AEPC under the other ministry just because its name contains the word ´energy´,” he commented.
Shakya further explained that as the Ministry of Energy deals more with big plants and projects, it might be indifferent to small level projects that come under the alternative energy rubric. “Furthermore, APEC was raised and nurtured by the Environment Ministry and it is not justifiable to hand it to the other ministry now,” he remarked.
Similarly, former environment minister Ganesh Shah stated that the vested interests of political parties and leaders have brought about a number of wrong deals, the proposed shunting of APEC being one such. “The poor were getting some benefits. APEC was faring well enough under the current ministry. But now the unnecessary change is going to happen under pressure from political bosses and parties.”
The focus of APEC has so far been the installation of bio-gas plants and smoke hoods, installation and promotion of solar energy and ecological sanitation in the villages, among other things.
“The decision is wrong, it might affect the interests of donors also,” Shah further commented.
On the other hand, spokesperson at the Ministry of Energy Arjun Kumar Karki straightaway denied that donors would be less interested in funding development under APEC just because it changes ministries. “Have the donors come for the development of the country or that of the staff of a particular ministry?” he fumed.
“Let the decision makers make their decision on who should look after APEC but the argument that it will suffer under the Ministry of Energy is absolutely baseless. Tomorrow APEC itself might become a separate ministry. What then?," Karki added.