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India: Energy Ring for South Asia

Published at: Mar 15, 2012
source: The Financial Express

published by

Recently there are efforts to create an energy circle for the SAARC members, which should be finalized in June this year.

As commonly known, there is a growing energy demand in South Asia, in particular the demand raises by 6 percent a year. This is an increase in demand which cannot be meet. A huge number of the population has still no access to energy.

Certain reports suggest, that countries like India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh import 75 to 100 percent of their domestic petroleum needs, although these countries are well equipped with natural energy resouces. These remain largely untapped or are unequally distributed. India, Pakistan and Bhutan are well endowed with gas and coal. The region has one of the worlds highest potential for hydro-electric power. India for instance has high potential in solar and wind energy.

Promoting cooperation between these countries can create a situation, where the countries get the optimal share of energy. Therefore ministers of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation SAARC decided to finanlize the SAARC Inter-Governmental Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation. The finalization should be completed in June this year. With the adaption of this agreement, an energy ring will be created.

This ring shall enable cross-border energy exchange and trade among participating countries and finally realise benefits with it. Unrestriced cross-border trade of electricity on a voluntary basis will be provided. This agreement allows the nations to buy and sell entities and to negotiate terms.

Consequently the energy ring facilitates cooperation, joinly develops coordinated procedures and promotes the transfer of technologies and know-how. The energy ring connects all SAARC member countries in order to minimize power shortages. The Energy Center is expected to act as catalyst for economic growth and regional development. All member coutries identified promoting energy trade as one of the key areas of cooperation. India already has grid interconnections with Nepal and Bhutan. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are in discussion.

Benefits will arise as soon as the circle is created. All countries will benefit from the effets of Nepal to conservate fuel by introducing battery powered rickshaws and solar water heaters. Currently India is benefiting from the hydroelectricity, generated by Nepal and Bhutan. For a better coordination an electric power regulatory body will be formed.

In the end, bringing power to rural households will serve the poor by giving the people a better access to education, health, water and sanitation and technologies which will open new opportunities as well.

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