About 3,500 homes in Kalikot have been without power for the past seven years after landslides and floods repeatedly destroyed the Sannigad micro-hydropower project.
The project, built in 2008, supplied electricity to all neighborhoods of Raskot Municipality and Sannitribeni Rural Municipality, as well as four neighborhoods of Khadachakra Municipality, including Manma, the district headquarters.
The project was first damaged on June 17, 2015, when flooding in the Sannigad River inundated the site. It was repaired in 2018, thanks to the joint efforts of the Nepal Electricity Authority, the local unit and local organizations. The site was damaged a second time in July 2019, also due to flooding, even before it could be returned to service after repairs.
According to Narayan Poudel, head of the electricity company’s Kalikot distribution centre, the micro-hydro generated 250 kilowatts of electricity which was supplied to the villages.
“We corresponded with the head office of the electricity authority in March this year, asking the utility to clean up landslides and flood debris to rebuild the hydro project, but we have not received any response,” Poudel said. “The 2015 landslides and floods destroyed the canal which was repaired later, but the NEA did not send the budget to repair the damage caused by the 2019 floods.”
In 2015, 14 people died in the landslide in the rural municipality of Sannitriveni-3 and five people died in another landslide in the municipality of Raskot. Both areas are close to the Sannigad micro hydropower project.
About 130 million rupees have been spent on the project since its inception in 2000, although it only came into operation in 2008, according to the distribution center. “Since 2015, only about Rs 30 million has been spent by the local unit and the district electricity authority for the Sannigad project,” Poudel said.
Kamal Pandey, a resident of Khadachakra, said life has become more difficult in the villages after the electricity supply was disrupted. “We have had no electricity since 2015. Even though the authorities claim to spend money on the project, we still suffer from a lack of electricity.
For one year from October 2019, the NEA provided electricity to certain areas from a generator installed at Tadi Bus Park, Khadachakra-3 Municipality. Then, Manma, the district headquarters, was connected to the national transport network a year and a half ago, but the rural villages are not.
Residents say that since Manma now has an uninterrupted supply of electricity, the authorities have put the repair and operation of the project on hold.
“The micro-hydro project is completely overlooked by the NEA and other relevant agencies,” said Hari Neupane, a resident of Ward 1 in Raskot. “Manma is a day’s walk from my village and I have to cover that distance just to be able to use electricity. My village still has no electricity.
According to Jai Prasad Pandey, an employee of the project, efforts are being made to expand the capacity of the project as well as the maintenance of canals and machinery.
Pandey said that since so much money has already been spent on the project, it’s not ideal to leave it now. “We can provide electricity to dozens of villages once we repair and increase the capacity of the project,” Pandey said. “I hope the authorities understand the importance of this project for the people of Kalikot.”