India-Sri Lanka power link project advances

01 Aug 2023

The India-Sri Lanka power line project, which aims to establish a connection between the power grids of the two nations, is currently in the advanced stages of negotiation. It has been reported that a detailed project report (DPR) has been finished and is currently undergoing review before receiving formal approval. The proposed power line received a boost from the visit of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to India in July.

During Wickremesinghe’s visit, Prime Minister Modi stated that they had decided to accelerate the process of connecting the electricity grids between the two countries.

In January of this year, it was reported by Mint that the public sector Power Grid Corporation of India had prepared an initial report for the project. The report from Mint indicated that the connection would be established using overhead power lines rather than subsea cables.

The discussions regarding the establishment of power grid connectivity have been ongoing for more than ten years now. In 2010, an agreement was reached between the two countries to investigate the feasibility of linking their grids through an undersea cable. However, the proposal was ultimately abandoned due to concerns over the costs involved.

The connectivity of the power grids is expected to serve multiple purposes. Primarily, it will assist Sri Lanka in overcoming its energy security challenges following significant power shortages experienced in the country in 2022. These blackouts, along with the economic crisis the nation was facing, contributed to the downfall of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Furthermore, the project could potentially enable Sri Lanka to export power to India, thereby generating crucial foreign exchange in the long run.

In December 2022, Ajay Tewari, the additional secretary in the ministry of power, stated, "India presently possesses a robust power grid spanning from the North to the South and the East to the West of the nation. Looking ahead, our goal is to connect this grid to neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka, and then expand this network to encompass countries in Southeast Asia, thereby establishing a unified market."

India has demonstrated a keen interest in establishing a South Asian market for power trading. The nation has already established power grid connections with neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan. Media reports suggest that India, Nepal, and Bangladesh have potentially already finalized a draft agreement for a tripartite power trade.

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