Emphasizing the importance of hydropower to regional energy cooperation, India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dedicated a 1,200-kilometer transmission line linking India to Bhutan’s 1,020-MW Tala hydroelectric project.
�I do hope that we can replicate our highly successful, win-win model of bilateral cooperation with Bhutan in the power sector with Nepal, too,� Singh said June 20. �Hydropower is clean and renewable. We must tap the energy in our river systems in this region more effectively and more efficiently. This can be done to the benefit of all countries in the region.�
The 28 billion rupee (US$680 million) East-North Tala Transmission System was developed by Powerlinks Transmission, a joint venture of India’s Power Grid Corp. and Tata Power, to provide electricity to India’s Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand states.
Ministers of India and Bhutan signed agreements in 2006 for long-term cooperation on hydropower development and for India’s purchase of power from the Tala hydroelectric project, built in Bhutan with Indian assistance. The project has been operating since July 2006. (HNN 8/1/06)
�Today, we are linking India into a web of partnerships with the countries of the region and beyond through free trade and economic cooperation agreements,� the prime minister said.
Electricity-constrained South Asian nations have been moving toward building a common energy grid, edging closer to overcoming political obstacles that have left some with a power deficit and others with abundance. (HNN 3/20/07) Nepal and Bhutan have substantial untapped hydroelectricity potential, while Bangladesh has large gas reserves that could be used domestically or exported to India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka — if the infrastructure existed to carry it.
Hydro task force to address environment, resettlement
Singh said India must invest in local, small-scale power sources, but also must continue to invest in large hydro, thermal, and nuclear power sources.
�I am, of course, aware that there are concerns pertaining to ecology and rehabilitation and resettlement in the case of large hydroelectric projects,� he said. �I am fully cognizant of such concerns and they must be addressed.�
To deal with those concerns, Singh said the Ministry of Power is constituting a Task Force on Hydropower.
�I do sincerely believe that it is possible for us to take care of our people and our environment while undertaking hydropower projects,� he said.