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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

When it comes to power pangs, Pak Punjab no better

Agencies  New Delhi, June 15, 2013
First Published: 01:11 IST(15/6/2013) | Last Updated: 01:17 IST(15/6/2013)

Facing severe energy shortages, Pakistan has sought as much as 500 MW of electricity from India by laying a transmission line from Punjab into Lahore. Against the backdrop of the energy crisis triggering protests in parts of Punjab, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also on Friday ordered officials to "examine the possibility of importing energy from neighbouring countries to improve the situation on immediate basis".

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The statement, issued after the premier chaired a high level meeting on the energy situation, did not specify the countries that could possibly supply energy, but sources told PTI that Sharif had earlier personally asked Indian high commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to expedite a visit by Indian energy experts to Pakistan.

Following Sharif's request, a team of Indian experts visited Islamabad and Lahore earlier this week to discuss the export of gas and electricity.

On Tuesday, power minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif chaired a meeting with a five-member Indian delegation led by a joint secretary and discussed several proposals, including setting up a transmission line to export 500 MW.

The Indian delegation also held discussions with representatives of the National Transmission and Despatch Company Limited in Lahore before travelling to Islamabad. The Indian experts also met Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of the premier and a member of a federal cabinet committee on energy.

It is learnt that New Delhi is willing to help and is exploring the points that can be used to hook up to the grid in Pakistan through a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line, government sources said. The talks, however, are still on and the Indian delegation led by joint secretary Rita Acharya has discussed the broad contours of a proposed arrangement.

India, which has installed capacity of over 2.11 lakh MW, plans to add another 88,000 MW by March 2017.

Reports said the plan is to isolate a part of Lahore from the Pakistani grid and hook up a direct connection with a grid to get 250-300 MW for now. 

Even on the Indian side, despite tall claims of making Punjab power-surplus, the state power corporation estimates that the power-supply gap will vary between 4% and 31% the entire 2013-14 fiscal.  Agencies


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