South Asia

Nepal TV station uses lantern to highlight power cuts

Kantipur TV bulletin presented by kerosene (paraffin) lantern
Image caption Here is the news - read to you by lantern light

One of Nepal's top television networks has begun broadcasting its nightly news bulletin in semi-darkness to highlight the effects of massive power cuts.

Since the beginning of February, Kantipur Television has used only a kerosene (paraffin) lantern to light its 30-minute-long 7pm news bulletin.

The head of Kantipur News said that the aim was to put pressure on the government to tackle the problem.

Nepal is currently suffering about 12 hours of power cuts a day.

"We want the government to produce more electricity as soon as possible," Kantipur News head Tirtha Koirala told the BBC.

"So far we've been getting a very positive response from our audience, but nothing yet from the government."

Despite having massive hydro-power potential, Nepal produces less than half its electricity needs.

A 10-year civil conflict between Maoist rebels and the state, which ended in 2006, has meant that there has been little investment in Nepal's power sector.

Image caption Nepalese school children have become used to working by candle light

On top of this, the country's power supply was badly affected after the destruction of electricity transmission lines during the Kosi River floods in 2008.

This means that load-shedding - when the authorities shut down power to a particular area in order to conserve electricity - has become a factor of daily life.

The problem is particularly acute in winter when a lack of rainfall and low water levels in the rivers mean that existing hydro-electric plants are not operating at full capacity.

The state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority has said that the country can expect at least 14 hours of power cuts a day in the next few weeks.

"We are suffering tremendously because of load-shedding," Mr Koirala said.

"About 400,000 students are currently trying to study for their School Leaving Certificate and they don't have any light in the evening.

"Also small and medium enterprises who can't afford a generator or an inverter aren't able to operate."

Mr Koirala said his television news bulletin would continue to be broadcast in darkness until the government responded.

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