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India Calls for SAARC Power Grid
Oct 21, 2014

In the 5th meeting of the SAARC Energy Ministers held recently in New Delhi recently, India has called for building SAARC power grid so that excess production of power in one region can easily be used to meet deficit elsewhere.  Power can flow in the direction of our choice. Hydroelectric power generated in North East India could be transported via Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, on to Afghanistan or offshore wind projects could be set up in Sri Lanka’s coastal borders to power Pakistan or Nepal. This will not only strengthen the economic ties among the SAARC nations but also deepens the people to people relationship.

The economic sustainability of SAARC region is pillared on energy security as 30 per cent of the region’s energy demands are met through imports. In order to resolve this, India favoured a three pronged strategy—harnessing conventional and renewable sources of energy; building inter-connected transmissions grids and forging efficacious power trading agreements.  SAARC is a robust market but constraints are primarily on the supply side as there are pockets where deficits persist.

The household per capita consumption of electricity within SAARC is mere 128 units versus global average of 3,045 units. India has implemented some Intra-SAARC linkages established in the recent past, 1450 MW exchange between India and Bhutan, 500 MW between India and Bangladesh and 150 MW between India and Nepal. More interconnections with high capacity are being planned and implemented. India urged the member countries to develop more such interconnections and offered India’s help to enhance production capacity so that member countries become exporters in the region.

Apart from the host country India, Energy Ministers and senior officials from the SAARC member countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka participated in the meeting. Pakistan was not present in the meeting. In the meeting member nations arrived at a consensus on Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation which has been pending since 2010.

The process of regional cooperation in energy sector began in January 2000 with the establishment of a Technical Committee on Energy.  Thereafter, recognizing that this vital area requires focused attention, the Council of Ministers approved the creation of a specialized Working Group on Energy in January 2004 to conduct a study on the concept of the South Asian Energy Ring and constituted Ministerial level Energy Forum through the Islamabad declaration of the 12th SAARC Summit.

The first meeting of the SAARC Energy Ministers was held at Islamabad on 1 October 2005 which decided the formation of an Expert Group to deliberate on the options and potential of energy conservation and energy efficiency measures and to formulate a road map for implementation in the SAARC region.  The Expert Group formulated a Road Map for implementation by the Member States. The second meeting of the SAARC Energy Ministers was held on 7th March 2007 in New Delhi. The third meeting of the SAARC Energy Ministers was held in Colombo on 29th January 2009.  The fourth meeting of the SAARC energy Ministers was held in Dhaka on 14-15 September 2011.


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