Villages in dark as drying rivers hit micro-hydels
CHITWAN, June 2: With small rivers and rivulets drying up, several villages-- mostly inhabited by the marginalized Chepang people--are now in darkness. The locals are forced to make do with oil-lamps during the nights as micro-hydro projects dependent on local rivers remain out of operation.
In Korak VDC of Chitwan district, more than 200 households used to get electricity from three micro-hydro projects at Gogarchok, Badahara and Jogini Khola. With the water levels significantly depleted in the three small rivers, the villagers are forced to spend the nights in darkness.
"This is the first instance of our rivers and rivulets drying up," says Dharma Raj Lama, a resident of Korak VDC. "This year we experienced a severe drought. Despite last night´s rain, there isn´t water in the rivers sufficient to generate electricity. Peltric sets have been shut down due to drought."
Korak is not the only VDC witnessing drying local rivers. In Siddhi and Lothar VDCs, mostly populated by Chepang and Tamang people, the locals have been left without electricity for the last few months. The lack of power affected the studies of children as they can not study in the nights.
"We had stopped buying kerosene long ago after we got electricity from micro-hydro projects," says Som Lal Tamang, a resident of Lothar VDC. "But now we are again forced to buy kerosene."
In Chitwan, there are micro-hydro projects supported by Community Forest User Groups. Some projects have received grants from the Ministry of Energy as well.
“The ministry provides Rs 100,000 for micro-hydro projects," says Bishal Thapaliya, an environment officer at District Development Committee (DDC) of Chitwan.
"However, in some villages, locals have not taken a single penny from the government."
According to Thapaliya, there are seven micro hydro projects in Chitwan that supply electricity to the locals for Rs 40-50 a month.