The Union government finalised a long-pending consensus over an inter-country grid connecting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries in a meeting held with the representatives in the annual meeting of Saarc energy ministers in New Delhi.
The member nations, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, arrived at a consensus on Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation, which has been pending since 2010.
Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Coal, Power and Renewable Energy, said initial discussions had started for an integrated power transmission grid connecting India with its neighbouring nations, wherein excess production of power in one region can easily be used to meet deficit elsewhere. "Economic sustainability of Saarc region is based on energy security as 30 per cent of the region's energy demands are met through imports. This will strengthen the economic ties among the Saarc nations."
The power minister mentioned that existing intra-Saarc linkages such as a 1,450-MW exchange between India and Bhutan, one of 500 Mw between India and Bangladesh and one of 150 Mw with Nepal have been of immense help to the energy balance of the region.
The first meeting of the Saarc energy ministers was held in Islamabad in 2005, where an expert group was formed to formulate a road map for energy conservation and energy efficiency measures in the SAARC region. "There should be a three-pronged strategy to address energy security. One is to harness conventional and renewable sources of energy; second, to build inter-connected transmission grids, and finally, to forge efficacious power trading agreements," Goyal said.