Going Beyond Lip Service to SAARC Co-operation

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    Nepal-IndiaMarking a significant step in its nascent electricity diplomacy efforts, India has agreed to offer 150 MW power to Nepal in addition to the 120 – 140 MW that it exports currently. The move will effectively double export of power to Nepal and mitigate the Himalayan nation’s power shortage, which turns acute in winter. Nepal has a generating capacity of 600MW but the hydroelectric output is severely reduced during winter, when demand peaks. The proposal is expected to be taken up at the current meeting of the Indo-Nepal joint working group and joint steering committee, a follow-up to the India-Nepal power trade agreement signed in September.

    Prime minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit Nepal later this month for the 18th SAARC summit, where he is likely to oversee the inking of a pact that would pave the way for the setting up of a 900MW hydropower project in Nepal. The project development agreement (PDA) for the 900 MW Arun III hydroelectric power project was finalised last month as a precursor to Modi’s visit to Kathmandu. The signing of the PDA for the `5,139 crore project, to be developed by Nepal’s state-owned SJVN Ltd, is being seen as a defining step in the consolidation of the power sector cooperation between the two countries. The power will be exported from the international boundary with Bihar, where the load of Nepal is concentrated. This would be done through two new 132kV lines that will be constructed shortly at an estimated cost of `20 crore.

    It is indeed heartening that in recent times India is not paying mere lip service to SAARC co-operation. While Pakistan is incorrigible, with other countries of the region there have been concerted efforts to forge closer relations. Nepal had been moving closer to China when the Manmohan Singh government was in the saddle but with recent Indian initiatives the process has been halted.

    Source : The New Indian Express