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India, Sri Lanka plan to connect each others'' power network

NEW DELHI, April 21 (KUNA) -- India and neighbouring Sri Lanka are devising a plan for an undersea transmission line to connect the power distribution networks of the two countries so that electricity can be supplied by one when the other faces power shortage. A report prepared by the Indian state-run PowerGrid has said that the cost of the project will be USD 573 mln and that the project could be completed within 42 months of gettng investment approvals, India's leading English daily The Times of India reported Monday. "The undersea link will be laid on the sea bed just as telecom and internet cables run across ocean beds around the world. It will have safeguards on both sides against electrocution in case of damage from ship anchors or sharks. An optic-fibre cable will also run alongside the main power cable to keep an eye on the link and also provide extra telecom capacity between the two countries, " The Times of India said. "The idea is to use electricity as a tool of regional integration. This can be an ideal example. We are already working with Bhutan while Power Trading Corporation and private sector GMR have got projects in Nepal and we are looking at linking up with Bangladesh and Myanmar," India's Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh told the daily. The report prepared by PowerGrid says the power supply scenario between India and Sri Lanka will allow them to exchange about 500MW of electricity in the short term, or by 2009-10. Presently, India is facing a 16 per cent electricity shortage. The government plans to add 78,500MW capacity by 2012. In comparison, Sri Lanka does not have any power surplus or deficit. Nearly half of the power generated in Sri Lanka comes from hydel sources. However, almost half of the total hydel potential of 2,000MW has been tapped and new projects will be difficult to implement due to social and environmental problems. "The proposed transmission line between the two countries will provide hydel support to Sri Lanka, while India can seek thermal support from its neighbour in winters. The link will help Srii Lanka reduce use of expensive fuels and import cheaper power. For India, the link will open up a new market for its surplus," The Times of India said. (end) dr.ajs KUNA 211834 Apr 08NNNN