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Sri Lanka and India to enter into new pact to link their power grids soon

Sri Lanka and India will sign a pact to link their power grids and start negotiations on an upgraded trade agreement within two months, a Sri Lankan High Commissioner in India Milinda Moragoda said on Wednesday.

The two countries resumed talks on linking their electricity grids last year, and Moragoda said a memorandum of understanding on the project would be signed within two months, which will be followed by a feasibility study.

First proposed more than a decade ago, the project has made little progress so far. But Moragoda said Sri Lanka hoped to get the transmission line in place within two to three years so that renewable power produced on the island can be sold to India.

Experts have welcomed the move of exploring the possibility of establishing an overhead electricity link with Sri Lanka as the island nation seeks a way out of its worst economic crisis in decades.

India has been supplying power to Bangladesh and Nepal, and has also been campaigning a global electricity grid that may initially aim to link countries, such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, with the sub-continent.

India’s energy diplomacy initiatives range from cross-border electricity trade to supplying petroleum products and setting up liquefied natural gas terminals.

India is pushing for the implementation of its first undersea power transmission project with Sri Lanka, amidst concerns from the Sri Lanka Power and Energy Ministry and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) engineers.

India’s power transmission company Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) has completed a feasibility study for the interconnection of the India-Sri Lanka Electricity Grids, which includes setting up of High Voltage Direct Current Transmission system between the two countries involving under sea transmission in 2011.

The feasibility study report observed that electricity could be supplied from India to Sri Lanka at concessionary rates through a submarine cable under the sea by 2014.

CEB officials have objected to the proposed project with India, saying Sri Lanka will have to adhere to conditions laid down by the Indians for the implementation of the power project.

This might also be a strategic measure to counter the growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, they alleged.

According to the project proposal the 250-300 km power link, including submarine cables over a stretch of over 50 km, will be jointly implemented by Power Grid and the Ceylon Electricity Board.

The detailed feasibility report from the Lankan side is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The line is expected to take 1,000 MW. The power link, including submarine cables over a stretch of 50 km, will enable the two countries to trade surplus power.

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