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India uses power diplomacy to engage Myanmar, win project

India uses power diplomacy to engage Myanmar, win project
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First Published: Mon, Jun 23 2008. 11 49 PM IST

Making ways: Minister of state for power Jairam Ramesh.
Making ways: Minister of state for power Jairam Ramesh.
Updated: Mon, Jun 23 2008. 11 49 PM IST
The roadblocks that have delayed a key hydropower project in Myanmar by more than three years may finally be cleared during minister of state for power Jairam Ramesh’s visit to Myanmar.
The Export-Import Bank of India, or Exim Bank, is to extend two lines of credit amounting to $84 million (Rs361.2 crore) to Myanmar during the four-day trip by Ramesh, who is also minister of state for commerce and industry. The minister’s visit began Sunday.
Making ways: Minister of state for power Jairam Ramesh.
Myanmar had redesigned the Tamanti project, doubling its capacity to 2,400MW. NHPC Ltd, previously known as National Hydroelectric Power Corp. Ltd, an Indian government enterprise, had prepared a feasibility report for the original 1,200MW project.
“This visit is part of our regional diplomacy initiatives to use electricity in order to engage our neighbours,” Ramesh said before his departure for Myanmar. “The lines of credit are for developing the power transmission and distribution networks in Myanmar.
“I will also use this visit as an opportunity to help NHPC get the Tamanti project, the detailed project report for which has been prepared by NHPC. I am aware that there are some difficulties with the project, which will be sorted out,” said Ramesh.
Ramesh is to meet Myanmar’s power minister Col Zaw Min in Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s capital. His visit is part of the Indian government’s exercise to improve its diplomatic and economic ties with a neighbour that has rich deposits of natural gas, a fuel India needs.
Tamanti is in the north of Myanmar. Once completed, the project would help control floods and provide water for irrigation in the region. India would receive the bulk of the power generated. Myanmar has hydroelectric power potential of 39,720MW and an installed capacity of around 747MW.
“Inter-country deals are very complex. It is more government-to-government intervention that helps. Nothing else works,” Shubhranshu Patnaik, an executive director at audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, had earlier said about the project.
India has been trying to utilize its infrastructure development efforts in Myanmar to sign long-term contracts for supply of natural gas. The successful completion of the project could help India develop more hydropower projects in Myanmar and tap its energy resources.
Myanmar has natural gas reserves of 89.722 trillion cu. ft (tcf), of which 18.012tcf are proven recoverable reserves or gas that can be easily extracted and tapped.
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First Published: Mon, Jun 23 2008. 11 49 PM IST