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Economy

Nepal needs bridge over troubled waters

Himalayan nation faces Sino-Indian competition for its hydropower resources

| Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan
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People take a boat across the Rapti River at Sauraha in Chitwan, south of Kathmandu.   © Reuters

Nepal sits on vast water resources. The United Nations describes the landlocked Himalayan state as "one of the Asian countries with the highest level of water resources per inhabitant." Water can potentially be to Nepal what oil is to Arab sheikhdoms.

Nepal's renewable water resources are estimated at 7,372 cubic meters per capita annually, or several times higher than those for the two demographic titans between which it is sandwiched -- China and India. Yet Nepal, oddly, seems afflicted by a water curse. A failure to adequately harness water resources has left the nation acutely energy-starved, and water shortages are endemic in major Nepalese cities, including the capital, Kathmandu.

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