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Push for Pak power trade pact

New Delhi, March 29: A team of Indian technicians is reviewing the draft agreement on the export of 500 mega watts (MW) of power to Pakistan.

The technical working group was set up after a recent meeting of officials of both the countries, in which they agreed on the broad contours of the electricity trade, officials in the power ministry said.

A draft of the memorandum of understanding was handed over to the Indian authorities and a detailed response will be provided to Islamabad after technical experts look into the issue.

Officials indicated that if all technical aspects were resolved, electricity trade between the two countries could start before the end of this calendar year.

The Central Electricity Authority and Power Grid Corporation of India will be the nodal technical agencies in India, while the National Transmission and Despatch Company and the office of the chief engineering adviser will be the nodal agencies in Pakistan.

Officials said there was a broad agreement that cross-border trading would be through high voltage direct current (HVDC) coupling as is being done with Bangladesh at present. This will ensure that both the grids operate independently.

Officials believe it will be economical to transfer power through Amritsar as Lahore has complete transmission lines and grids and is near the grid in Punjab.

The project will require 45 kilometres of 220 kilovolts (kv) transmission lines on both sides of the border — 25 kilometres in India and 20 kilometres inside Pakistan —to be laid for wheeling power.

The power tariff is likely to be around Rs 8 for a unit, which is similar to the tariff prevalent in Pakistan, sources said.

The World Bank, which had done the pre-feasibility study for the energy trade between the two nations, has suggested the two countries should consider scaling up the trade to 1,200MW to meet the long-term energy demand of the Islamic nation. It has also hinted at financing the feasibility study for setting up such a transmission line.

Pakistan faces a 37 per cent, or 5,000 MW, energy shortage and is looking for ways of bridging the shortfall.

At present, Islamabad imports 35MW of power from Iran. It plans to increase this to 100MW. It is also considering importing another 1,000MW from Tajikistan.

Power production in Pakistan is about 10,000-16,000 MW against an installed capacity of 20,800 MW because of old plants, poor maintenance and high debt.

 
 
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