Tuesday, June 9, 2015

WATER: Thinking Beyond Hydro-power Projects

In recent times, both the KUENSEL, as well as the BBS, have been unfailing in the regularity with which they reported on our hydro-power projects and how there is a need to review the hydro-power policy that has obviously failed to meet our expectations. It would appear that the realization has finally begun to dawn on a number of people that the much-touted egg, whether in a single basket or multiple baskets, is turning out to be nothing more than a thoroughly rotten egg!

Unfortunately, the writing on the wall is that reviewing or even reformulating our hydro-power policies isn’t going to help us in the least bit. By now it is obvious that what is needed is a complete reversal of policy.

As I hinted in my earlier post titled; “WATER: The Next BIG Trouble: III”, there is a need to look at our rivers as something more than merely a force to drive turbines to generate electricity. There is an URGENT need to move away from our traditional thinking - of using our river waters merely to turn turbines - and explore other possibilities the waters hold for us. The reasons are simple:

1.  The hydropower projects are becoming a dangerous tool in the game of attrition that is
     being played out.

2.  Over time, we may loose right of ownership over our own river systems.

3.  Something that is rather strange is that imported cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene are currently found 
     to be cheaper as fuel for cooking and heating - rather than electricity or wood. In a
     country that claims to generate thousands of megawatts of cheap electricity, how did
     we allow such a situation to develop?

4.  We pride ourselves as a net exporter of power. Shamefully, we are required to import
     power from India during the winter months.

It is becoming increasingly clear that water will, one day, be one of the most sought after resource in the world, over which wars are likely to be fought. At a time when the world community is experiencing shortage of drinkable fresh water due to global warming caused by climate change, we need to be judicious in the management of our river waters which are mostly fed by the melting glaciers. Once the glaciers recede and turn to moraine, we are in trouble because there is nothing that will substitute water. Unlike other countries in the world, we do not have access to saline water that we can desalinate. When our river systems dry up, we are in serious trouble.

A plan needs to be put in place - to ensure that we have a long-term strategy to guarantee water security. However, that isn’t likely to happen if we allow hydro-power plants to be installed on every one of our rivers. If we allow that, it is clear that they will all be turned into factories designed to manufacture hundreds of billions of debt, which will be the end of us.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi will surely rest in peace because her long-term foreign policy objectives towards Bhutan would be so much closer to realization. It was her, soon after her second coming to power in 1980, who clearly spelt out India’s ultimate objectives in engaging Bhutan. She was explicit in her directives to her people: “come up with a plan to execute a final assault on Bhutan to make it completely beholden to India”. Her reason: "even a Lilliputian Bhutan has become a security threat for India" - as she declared during one of her campaigns in the general elections of 1980.

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