For every Rs100 earned from its exports, Nepal spends Rs169 just to import petroleum from India. Nepal is now also importing half of its electricity need from coal-fired thermal plants in India. Although it went down slightly with monsoon supply and new hydro powerplants coming on stream, Nepal imported 424MW of electricity from India this summer, which was about 35% of peak demand.
Says Durga Upadhyay, a co-author of the CANSA report: “If it was not for remittances, our foreign currency earnings from exports would not even pay for petroleum imports.”
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Despite policies and symbolic moves to reduce petroleum imports, Nepal’s consumption is growing as the road network spreads and vehicle imports increase. The government’s plans to build a 36km cross-border petroleum pipeline from India and storage stockpiles in each Province indicates that there is no end in sight to the country’s fossil fuel addiction.
Manjeet Dhakal says these moves indicate that Nepal’s policymakers believe the cost of ending the dependence on petroleum is too high. “But that is an outdated concept,” he says, “it is now possible to drive a country’s economy without using fossil fuels. PM Oli should learn from Costa Rica, a country he visited recently.”