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While the national grid in Nepal has been brought back online, the task now is to make electricity supply available through the distribution networks, a PGCIL executive said. Photo: Reuters
While the national grid in Nepal has been brought back online, the task now is to make electricity supply available through the distribution networks, a PGCIL executive said. Photo: Reuters

India helps Nepal rebuild its electricity network

According to preliminary estimates, it will require an investment of around Rs750 crore for reviving Nepal's electricity distribution network

New Delhi: Days after India’s Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL) helped Nepal’s electricity grid come online, the state-owned firm is working towards rebuilding the distribution network to start power supply in the tragedy-struck country.

According to preliminary estimates, it will require an investment of around 750 crore for reviving the country’s electricity distribution network. Nepal has an installed capacity of around 675MW, of which around 653MW is generated from hydropower. In comparison, India’s installed power generation capacity is 267,637.35MW.

Within hours of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake striking Nepal’s Kathmandu valley, India mobilized help for its neighbour. Piyush Goyal, India’s minister for power, coal and new and renewable energy, has maintained that India will extend all support to Nepal to help its electricity network resume operations.

“We have moved some material there. We will set it right," said the PGCIL executive quoted above.

Another PGCIL executive, who also didn’t want to be identified, confirmed the ongoing work plan and said that an executive director was deputed to Nepal to monitor and coordinate work there.

Although Nepal has 83,000MW of hydropower potential, it has been facing a shortage. According to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the largest power sector utility in the Himalayan nation, even before the earthquake struck, Nepal had an average shortage of around 410MW and large parts of the country went without electricity for around 12 hours every day.

India, Nepal’s largest trading partner, has been supplying electricity to its neighbour. While India buys 1,450MW from Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal get 500MW and 150MW from India, respectively. Still, Nepal runs a shortage of about 550MW.

India’s state-owned firms such as PGCIL and Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indian Air Force (IAF), have been the first in sending teams to deal with the consequences of the tragedy which has claimed at least 7,000 lives till date.

“Since 27 April 2015, nearly 17,000 kilolitres (KL) of petroleum products, including ATF (aviation turbine fuel), petrol and diesel, and over 3,700 tonnes of LPG has been moved from different supply points of Indian Oil into Nepal," IOC said in a statement.

The landlocked country gets all its petroleum products supply from India under a government-to-government agreement. India is also working on a plan to build a pipeline to supply ATF, petrol and diesel to Nepal with which it shares an 1,850km-long border.

“The Indian Oil team is also in the process of assessing the damage to the petroleum installations in Nepal and extend technical assistance, if necessary. Meanwhile, Nepal Oil Corp. (NOC) has confirmed that there is no shortage or disruption in supplies of essential petroleum products in the country. The road routes for movement of petroleum products from Indian Oil’s Bulk Storage Depot at Raxaul to Amlekhganj and Kathmandu in Nepal are also operational. As per available information, sufficient stock of petroleum products are available at Amlekhganj depot of NOC," according to the IOC statement.

This comes in the backdrop of Indian and Chinese firms competing to develop hydropower projects in Nepal in an attempt to build commercial and diplomatic relations with a country that is strategically located between them.

Nepal has also been working on a plan to set up a state-owned power trader with the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), signing a framework agreement on electricity trade at its Kathmandu summit in November. An inter-connected grid planned under the agreement will allow power to be traded like any other commodity to meet the electricity demand of the region. Saarc groups India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the Maldives.

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