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Power, Transmission projects to get a push during Modi-Sirisena meet

Talks underway between Ceylon Electricity Board, NTPC and PowerGrid Corporation

Sanjay Jog & PTI  |  Mumbai 

Narendra Modi

NTPC’s 500 megawatt (Mw) coal-based power project at Sampur, Trincomalee and Power Grid Corporation’s over-sea and under-sea transmission line project connecting India and Sri Lanka are expected to get a needed push during the coming meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and new Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

The project, which NTPC had proposed in June 2005, entails an investment of Rs 2,000 crore. It is yet to get various clearances from the Sri Lankan government agencies.

The transmission project, proposed in 2007-08 to transfer 1,000 Mw from India to Lanka, needs an investment of Rs 3,000 crore. However, both the governments, Power Grid and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) are yet to settle various technical and other issues before a formal agreement.

An NTPC spokesperson told Business Standard: “The coal-based project is a joint venture with CEB. The company has initiated a process to get environment clearance from the Lankan government. The public hearing will be in a month.'” An NTPC team is stationed in Lanka and is pursuing the project.

The spokesperson said the two governments signed an agreement in October 2013 to develop a coal-based plant in Trincomalee as a joint venture between CEB and NTPC. The initial capacity will be 500 Mw, extendable to 1,000 Mw. Further, power from the Sampur plant could be exported to India.

Sirisena arrived in Delhi on Sunday on a four-day visit. He will hold talks with the Indian leadership on ties, including ways to enhance cooperation and the peace and reconciliation process in the island nation. The 63-year-old Sirisena, who had dethroned Mahinda Rajapaksa from his 10-year rule after a bitter Presidential poll, has already indicated that he wants to have a closer relationship with India and chose it for his first foreign visit.

On Power Grid’s transmission project, 300 km of overhead line has been proposed between Anuradhapura in Lanka and Madurai. There will also be a marine link of 1,700 km. A Power Grid official said: “Technical and financial issues are being discussed with CEB. Besides, there are religious places at the connecting centres and the local community needs to be taken on board. Two high voltage, direct current terminal stations are to be set up at the two ends of the link, connected to Sri Lanka's national power grid.”

Neelam Deo, former diplomat and director, Gateway House, a foreign policy think tank, said: “India has investments worth over $1 billion in Sri Lanka, and trade between the two countries stands at $5 bn. India will need to strike a difficult and delicate balance between its economic interests and the need to emphasise the concerns of the Sri Lankan Tamils. India must advance pending projects with Sri Lanka, particularly the $270 million project to build housing units in the northern province and a 500-Mw coal power plant in the eastern province.”

First Published: Mon, February 16 2015. 00:33 IST