A SAARC framework agreement for energy cooperation, pending since the past 4 years, was finalised at last after energy ministers of SAARC countries met in New Delhi over the past two days. The agreement, which will facilitate development of a SAARC Market of Electricity (SAME), now awaits ratification by the respective governments.
The meetings were chaired by power, coal, new and renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal who said that discussions over development of a SAARC power grid had also been held, the specifics of which still remained to be worked out.
"No financial figures or technical specifications regarding the grid have been arrived at so far but we will begin work towards this soon. We realise the urgent need for it since economic sustainability of SAARC region is pillared on its energy security. 30 per cent of the region's energy demands are met through imports and the household per capita consumption of electricity within SAARC is mere 128 units versus global average of 3,045 units," Goyal said.
This was the fifth meeting of the energy ministers held after a gap of three years, and will be followed up by a meeting of various energy regulators from the region in Bangladesh later in December this year.
Currently, India is importing around 1,500 MW from Bhutan while exporting around 500 MW to Bangladesh and 150 MW to Nepal, in addition to a slew of projects waiting to be constructed or finalised with these countries.
A plan to construct an ultra high voltage underwater HVDC line all the way to Sri Lanka is also in the pipeline. India has also offered to set up a training programme for power professionals in the region. Pakistan, however, was absent from the conference and had not responded to the invitation from the SAARC secretary general.
Source- Indian Express