Nepali Times
No water? No power? No problem


Investing in rain

Over-exploited ground water, growing demand and bad management have led to severe water shortage in Kathmandu, which is only bound to get worse. Melamchi is a mirage, so collecting falling rain is the only way out.

The idea is simple: just collect rain that falls on your roof, channel it through to a coarse mesh to filter debris, through a sand bed and store it. Excess water can be channelled to recharge the water table.

Tyler McMahon and his team at Smart Paani have installed 40 rainwater harvesting systems in Kathmandu offices, hotels, schools and households this year alone. "The Valley receives most of its rain from June to September, but most of it is wasted and goes down the drains, what we do is collect for our customer's daily needs," explains McMahon.

Despite the system's potential to revolutionise the way we acquire water, people are deterred by the initial cost as well as unfounded fears about pollution. Raju Dangol, a rainwater harvesting technician, is puzzled by the resistance. He says: "I don't understand why Nepalis who spend thousands for tanker water are hesitant to invest on a long-lasting and effective system that will save them money. After all it's not that they have a choice."

Bhrikuti Rai
Smart Paani: 01-5521906

Read also:
Collecting rain
Sky water

Pretty plastic


We throw away used Wai Wai and Lay's packets, chocolate wrappers, rice sacks, and tyres. But at Jeevan Kala, people earn their livelihood recycling them into useful products.

Jeevan Kala is a part of Himalayan Health Care (HHC) and collects plastic waste and sends them to artisans in northern Dhading who use them to create beautiful eco-friendly handicrafts. With outlets in Thamel and New York, Jeevan Kala has generated Rs 50 million in the past 11 years selling bowls, waste paper baskets, purse, bags, camera holders and trinkets. The money goes for the upkeep of 18 schools and stipends for 40 orphans and underprivileged children in northern Dhading. HHC also trains health workers and nurses and organises regular health camps.

Explains Sony Parajuli of HHC: "Making money is not our goal, we want to impart income-earning skills so that poor families can become financially independent."

Stuti Sharma
Jeevan Kala: 01-5528139

Read also:
A model hospital
Out of sight is not out of mind
Papier-mache initiative

State of sunshine


Since demand has far outstripped supply, there will be power cuts this time even during the monsoon. It may be the right time to invest in solar panels on your roof for 24-hour electricity for lights and running computers in your homes and offices.

What has deterred most Nepalis is the cost. But the prices of photo-voltaic cells are coming down and there is a way to make solar affordable. Jagannath Shrestha, president of the Nepal Solar Energy Society says: "It's possible to keep costs at a minimum by using CFL and appliances with low wattage."

Shrestha practices what he preaches and uses solar cells to run kitchen appliances to reduce his dependence on LPG, kerosene and firewood. Even the rice cooker in his house is powered by two 85 watt solar panels, two batteries of 100 ampere and an inverter. Shrestha now plans to order low-power refrigerators which can also run on solar.

Shrestha doesn't see any reason why families that splurge on furniture and decoration should complain about the cost of solar panels. "It's not a luxury, solar has become a necessity," he explains, "these systems are very durable and once installed, customers can live hassle-free lives without worrying about load shedding, diesel or inverters."

Bhrikuti Rai

Read also:
Here comes the sun
Bring home the sunshine
Rabi rocks! (The sun god, that is)

1. Entrepreneur Nepali

Suggestion to the firms/entrepreneurs trying to sell this -
Why don't you change your pricing model from initial fixed cost to monthly installment payment?

I like the idea and would buy it.
But I may hesitate on paying Rs 2- 3 lakhs (assume). Rather I would pay Rs 5,000 per month.

Have you considered partnering with a bank who will make the payment? You can transfer the credit risk to the bank who is now responsible for collecting the monthly payments.

Similar to buying a motorbike/car/house on monthly installment.

2. Krishna S.
Please try to sell this somewhere else. There is no substitute for "conventional" electricity. You cannot run any high power consuming appliances on Solar Electricity only. Even if you could, it would be too damned expensive. Tell that to an elderly suffering from pneumonia or bronchitis  in Kathmandu winter who is completely helpless. The nation should be concentrating on the mega-hydro project NOW! Please don't try to confuse innocent people with these articles which is driven by your militantly greenish ideology!
AND there is no alternative to Melamchi either. Try to find out the REASON behind the slow progress of the 500+ million dollar project than giving  simplistic "Melamchi is a mirage" message, if you really want to inform the public. Again, Rainwater Harvest is not the answer. You said it. Rainfall is seasonal in Nepal.Not many in Kathmandu can fork out 10 Lakh rupees just to build the Storage and experiment your fancy solution. Please NT, be serious. Inform  public the truth!

3. Rohit Rai

There is a lot of talks in countries neighbouring Nepal to produce 5GW power going solar. Why can't we? Why Nepalis only press to build hydro power companies?

Please, check this link:

4. Gunda Digshit
Is this an article or advertisement? Anyway, good information for people looking for alternative energy options. 

5. DG
Monsoon is for only  4 months .Recharge groundwater in a grand scale .Build ponds in thousands in the villages , check dams in the rivers and bore holes  /wells for rain water as pilot project . You have to compensate the water drawn by borings so that he ground water level is revived.. It is               possible in the valley.  

6. Raj Kumar Gurung

Pretty good solutions given. Thanks to the Nepali Times. I have been thinking about putting rainwater harvesting system at my house. Thanks.

7. Samriddhi

On the occassion of World Environment Day 2012  (Green Economy: does it include you?) One Planet Solution Pvt. Ltd tied up with Mega Bank to promote SmartPaani water technology. According to the agreement, Mega Bank will be providing financial services for installing SmartPaani systems at an annual interest rate of 9 percent.!/media/set/?set=a.245428095566837.48546.151031901673124&type=1

8. SmartPaani
@Krishna S. A rainwater harvesting system does not cost 10 lakh rupees. 40,000 rupees for a sophisticated system is an average cost for an average household depending on the extent of the piping required. Most Kathmandu Households have 3000-15,000 liter underground tanks in their households that they put already contaminated (municipal, tanker, or groundwater) water in. To connect the rooftop via filter to this tank is not expensive. You are right, and it was said that rainwater harvesting is not the complete solution. Melamchi's delay has meant that by the time it comes, it still won't be enough. The groundwater (both shallow and deep) are being depleted at alarming rates. Yet 48 billion liters of rainwater are being sent to the sewer, unused, each year, causing flooding of roads and exacerbating groundwater depletion (this wasted water used to go into the ground before houses were built and roads paved). Thousands of households and institutions are buying tanker water trucks in the monsoon. The municipal supply doesn't come even during the monsoon for a lot of households and if it does, it comes at odd hours. Rainwater harvesting helps. It is low cost, and for many people the investment (avoided tanker costs, boring pumping/filtration) is returned in 2-3 years. No, it isn't a complete solution, but it helps and is a strategy that people can adopt. One last statistic: Between March to June, the driest months with the lowest municipal water supply, a typical household receives about 40,000 liters of rainfall on a standard 1000 square foot roof. Collecting some of this in the existing household tank and filtering it to use can help. That is the point of rainwater harvesting in Kathmandu, there is no need to spend 10+ lakh to build a tank, most households have one, they just need to collect rain properly in it and recharge the excess to the groundwater where possible. The entire concept of rainwater harvesting is to complement other sources of water in the monsoon, it is an individual solution and an individual household choice: if they see benefits they'll adopt it. That is why more and more households are choosing to do it on their own, or from their neighbor's advice. Workers see it in their office and install it in their house. Most of these households/businesses/schools don't adopt rainwater harvesting because it is green, they do it because it benefits them convenience-wise and economically.

Lastly, completely agree it would be good to know the causes behind the Melamchi delay, it is a lot of money being wasted on these delays.

9. Krishna S.
Every bit helps. Fine. But there is no way you can have round the year water supply unless you build a HUGE storage, which only big INGO's  or Foreign Diplomatic Offices, their Mansions/Playgrounds, or Elite Individuals with HUGE disposable income can afford to prove their point. Which is also fine. No Harm!
But my point is with the title of this article "No water? No power? No problem????". How ridiculous!! Not only this is grossly misleading, But it is an insult to millions of resident for whom the only answer is Municipally supplied Water or Electricity.

10. Tomas
Obviously the answer is Melamchi and West Seti and more efficient utilities. But since we have failed so miserably as a nation to provide water and power, we have to think of Plan B. Never thought I would see the day when somebody actually said a paper was insulting everyday Nepalis by giving information on alternative technologies.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)