Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tis the Dry Season...

Lights out for TV news in Nepal
(AFP) –
KATHMANDU — Nepal's most watched television station is to broadcast
its main evening news bulletin in semi-darkness from Tuesday to
highlight the problems caused by the country's chronic electricity
Kantipur Television said it would rely on traditional kerosene
lanterns -- a common sight across Nepal -- to light the studio every
night in a symbolic protest over the power crisis.
It hopes to pressurise the government to resolve an electricity
shortage that sees homes and businesses in Nepal plunged into darkness
for up to 18 hours a day, despite the huge potential for hydropower in
the Himalayan nation.
The programme, broadcast every evening, is to be renamed after the
Nepalese word for lantern and will carry themed news reports, starting
with an interview Tuesday with Nepal's energy minister.
"It is a symbolic protest, but we hope it will strike a chord with our
viewers," Kantipur's news chief Tirtha Koirala told AFP.
"These power cuts have brought people's daily lives to a standstill.
Media organisations are losing money because no one can watch the
television in a power cut and we are forced to use expensive
generators to broadcast.
"There are no penalties on the government for failing to provide these
basic needs, so we wanted to put moral pressure on them to do
Impoverished Nepal relies mainly on hydropower for its electricity,
but produces only 634 megawatts a year, well short of the national
requirement, according to the Nepal Electricity Authority.
Experts say the Nepal's huge mountain river system could be generating
up to 83,000 megawatts of power, allowing it to sell surplus
electricity to other countries.
But political instability and the lack of security have prevented the
necessary investment.

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