An agreement to set up a major power transmission line between India and Sri Lanka is likely to be inked early next year that would link two cities well known for their temples and religious festivals — Madurai in Tamil Nadu in the southern state of India 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 2000 crore.
Folklore has it that on the day Madurai was to be named, drops of honey fell from heaven on the city hence the name from 'mathuram' which means sweetness in Tamil. While Anuradhapura the most sacred town is named after the constellation Anuradha.
Sources who attended the meeting between Power Secretaries of the two countries held this week said, "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 month end."
Once completed it would be the second major regional transmission line from India, in addition to 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 the PGCIL 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 when contacted for details of the project refused to comment.
According to senior officials in Powergrid, "This is an important project for Sri Lanka to get power at a 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," Dr VV Desai, former cheif economist of Asian Development Bank and an Energy expert said. He also 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 is based on the learning eventually with Pakistan too."
Desai pointed the countries in the region that are deficit in fuel need not import them but generate power in the respective countries and power it up on the transmission lines connecting various countries in the region. "This has an importance for South Asia since fuel for power is not easily transportable and can be a win-win situation for the countries in the region," said Desai.