‘Cooperation can overcome power shortage in South Asia’

November 24th, 2011 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) South Asian countries must cooperate in addressing the issues of growing power shortage and energy insecurity due to high oil and gas prices in the international markets, senior officials said Thursday.

“Regional cooperation is the only way forward and it has to be India driven,” said Sudhir Vyas, secretary (Economic Relations) at the external affairs ministry.

He said India was trying to increase cooperation with all the neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan to ensure energy security in the region.

Vyas said India proposes to set up an integrated power grid system covering member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to address the problem of power deficiency in the region.

“With India looking at increasing power availability by 800,000 gigawatts by 2030 to sustain GDP growth rates of 8-9 percent, the country’s demand for energy will drive the formation of the SAARC energy grid,” Vyas said at a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

Vyas said while initial steps have been taken, much more needs to be done to expedite regional cooperation in this space. “A lot is being done at the bilateral level but this needs to be scaled up to the regional level,” he added.

On the occasion, CII released a report titled “South Asia Energy Cooperation and Business Opportunities in the Power Sector” that highlights the need for cooperation in the region.

Addressing the event, Kirit Parikh, chairman of Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) said cooperation among the SAARC countries would ensure more effective use of the scarce energy resources.

“The way forward is not only a strong reliance on large scale government interventions. It is also important to promote private sector participation on smaller platforms,” Parikh said.

“This can be done by the development of an institutional set up which facilitates the set up of transmission lines and true open access extended across borders,” he said.
Chief mentor of Tata Power Company Amulya Charan also emphasised on the need for setting up an integrated power grid for SAARC region.

“All our neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka either have the demand or the supply resources which are unfulfilled and therefore setting up a SAARC grid has huge potential,” Charan said.

Charan said the integrated grid would be a win-win proposition for all the countries in the region.

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