LALITPUR, Oct 27: Not so long ago, locals in the southern part of Lalitpur district had no access to electricity. But with the launch of an electrification campaign, the situation here is changing fast.
The South Lalitpur Rural Electric Cooperative (SLREC), the first community organization of its kind in the country, initiated the campaign formally in 2061.
Following the launch of the electrification drive, a majority of households have access to electricity in this part of the district, which is popularly known as the Karnali of the capital and has been lagging far behind despite being so close to Kathmandu.
“Almost 70 percent of the households have access to electricity and efforts are on to expand the coverage,” said Ram Krishna Humagain, chairman of SLREC.
According to Gopal Sanjel, a campaigner and former VDC chairman of Ikudol VDC, the locals would not have access to electricity yet if SLREC had not taken the initiative.
SLREC, the sole body for looking after the distribution and management of electricity and customer services in the area, had begun the electrification process on the basis of the Community Electrification Distribution bylaws-2003 approved by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) board.
The bylaws allow individual entrepreneurs and community user groups to buy electricity in bulk from NEA and manage the distribution in partnership with communities under a 80:20 scheme. The government contributes 80 percent of the cost and consumers take responsibility for 20 percent.
An electricity transformer pole seen on the roadside at Pyutar VDC in Lalitpur. Photo:Mahannda Timalsina
According to SLREC, electricity connections have reached all 19 village development Ccommittees (VDCs) of this part of the district which lies outside Kathmandu Valley.
“We were alienated for long from the right to basic infrastructure development including electricity, but now we are happy to be enjoying electricity,” says Ram Prasad Dangal of Asrhang VDC-8.
“The electrification has contributed to the promotion of small enterprises such as saw mills, rice and flour mills, small scale poultry farms and cold storage facilities in the villages,” said Thakur Prasad Adhikari, a local of Pyutar VDC.
Major change has been seen in mass media access as satellite TV, color television and mobile phones have reached almost every household in the area.
“Previously, Radio Nepal and some Birgunj-based FM stations were the only options for locals, but now most people have installed satellite TV antennas at their homes,” said Durga Prasad Ghimire of Pyutar-2.
Although all 19 VDCs are connected to the national grid, electiricity is yet to reach all the households in these VDCs. “The electrification campaign has touched all the VDCs, but a large number of households in some VDCs such as Pyutar, Malta, Gimdi and Thuladurlung are yet to get their electricity,” Humagain added.
Including these VDCs, the campaign is currently being launched in Nallu, Bhardeu, Shankhu, Ikudol, Bukhel, Manikhel, Gotikhel, Kaleshwor,Chandanpur, Bhattedanda, Dalchoki, Ghusel and Devichaur and Chaughare VDCs.
However, locals complain about the quality of the electricity being distributed. “Low voltage is a major problem as power cables have been laid all the way from Lagankhel to Gimdi and Thuladurlung, the last villages of the district, over a distance of 65 km,” acknowledged Gobinda Bajgain, manager at SLREC.
He added that a sub-station is needed for both quality as well as expansion of the coverage.