September 9, 2013
Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL) will be commissioning by 2016 four strategic electricity transmission links planned for the Northeast and neighbouring Bhutan to supply power to other parts of India.
The projects, planned in 2009, would result in transmission of 6,000 MW of electricity generated by hydropower projects, enough to meet the power demand of Delhi. More electricity in the grid will help avoid a blackout.
While the two links of 1,500 MW each from the Northeast region will be completed in 2014-15 financial year, the two links of 1,500 MW each for evacuation of power from Bhutan will be completed in the 2015-16 fiscal.
The development of infrastructure in the Northeast is also key to India’s so-called Look East policy – a focus on Southeast Asia. Some of the important projects planned for the region include the 670 km East-West corridor, connecting state capitals with a broad gauge railway network, developing air transportation infrastructure such as a new airport at Itanagar and inland waterway development.
The potential of the northeastern states and Bhutan for hydropower generation is about 58,000 MW. There have been concerns about faltering hydropower generation in the country, accounting as it does for 39,623.40 MW, or 17.55 per cent of India’s 225,793.10 MW power generating capacity.
Bhutan, strategically located between India and China, has the potential to generate 30,000 MW of hydropower but has a capacity of just 1,490 MW. Apart from hydropower projects, India has also helped Bhutan build the Penden cement plant, Paro airport and the Bhutan Broadcasting Station.
The transmission links from Bhutan will help boost India’s efforts to step up energy diplomacy in the neighbourhood. India is helping Bhutan build 10,000 MW of hydropower with concessional finance, with the overall investment expected to be about $10 billion. Around 90 per cent of the power generated through these projects will be sold to India, which already has power grid links with Bhutan, to meet the country’s growing energy demand.