About seven years ago, the people in Balua were fed up waiting for electricity to reach the village. They were no more than 60 km from Kathmandu. It took 17 years for the government to cover 400 households. They were determined to prevent such delays.
The village desperately needed electricity to irrigate the fertile valley’s famed garlic fields. The grid was just 5 km away; they knew they could do better. They heard of a scheme that could speed up the process. Any registered body could extend the grid on its own by a-20 per cent contribution of the cost.
In 2004 they formed a committee and applied for extension of the grid. They mobilized the community to contribute money for the 20-per cent cost. In less than three years, the committee succeeded. They got 400 households electrified. The running of the substation seemed a challenge initially. It involved managing the 11 KVA transmission poles, household wiring, repair and maintenance of the 150 and 300 KVA transformers, installing meters and taking on the full basket of customer service functions such as meter reading, billing, repair and accounts.
All this in a community with no trained manager or electrical engineer. Today the committee has four employees, two technical staff who learnt the trade hands-on when they worked with the contractor, an accountant and one biller who doubles as an office assistant.