An agreement to set up a major power transmission line between India and SriLanka is likely to be inked early next year. The line would link two cities well known for their temples and religious festivals—Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Anuradhapura, an ancient city in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka.
According to senior Power Ministry officials, a high voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission line between the two cities would be set up at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore.
Legend has it that drops of honey fell from heaven on the day Madurai was named, which caused it to be named after a word for sweetness, "mathuram." Anuradhapura is named after a constellation of stars, Anuradha.
An official who attended the meeting between the power secretaries of the two countries held this week told Hindustan Times: "It was just honey that flowed between the officials of the two countries when it came to agreeing on issues. The officials also agreed to explore opportunities to set up more power transmission networks between the two countries and have agreed to prepare a feasibility report for Madurai-Anuradhapura by the month-end."
Once completed, the link would the second major regional transmission line from India, in addition to one that links Bhutan .
Power Secretary RV Shahi told Hindustan Times, "We have not firmed up the details. A Steering Committee has been set up that would be co-chaired by the two Secretaries and senior officials from both sides. A Task Force comprising of representatives of the Ministry of Power, Central Electricity Authority and PGCIL (Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd) and their counterparts in Sri Lanka will study the feasibility report prepared by the PGCIL and make recommendations to the Steering Committee. "
RP Singh, chairman and managing director of PGCIL, declined comment on the power project.
"This is an important project for Sri Lanka to get a power at low cost from India and for India it is an opportunity to build the regional grid that could evacuate and transmit power within the South Asian region," said a senior Power Grid official, who asked not to be identified.
Dr VV Desai, former chief economist of Asian Development Bank and an energy expert, said "It is one step forward in the direction towards creating regional markets. It augurs very well for possible development of energy trading with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and based on the learning,eventually, with Pakistan too."
Desai pointed out that the countries in the region which are short of fuel can avoid fuel imports by using power distribution links between nations.
"This has significance for South Asia since fuel for power is not easily transportable. and can be a win-win situation for the countries in the region," Desai said.