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NEW DELHI : New Delhi: As part of India’s playbook of helping build a South Asia-focused energy security architecture, state-run hydropower generator SJVN Ltd has pitched for more hydropower projects from Nepal.

This was articulated by SJVN chairman and managing director Nand Lal Sharma during his official visit to Arun-3 hydropower project that the Indian public sector unit is building, when he met Nepal’ Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli on Saturday. Sharma also met Nepal’s deputy prime minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel in Kathmandu.

Nepal is located strategically between India and China, both of which have significant regional and global aspirations. The Himalayan country is open to partnering with Chinese and Indian firms to raise money.

“He (Nand Lal Sharma) requested Hon’ble Prime Minister to consider SJVN for development of more Hydro Electric Projects in Arun Basin and at other locations in Nepal," SJVN said in a statement on Saturday.

Although Nepal has a hydropower potential of around 43 gigawatt (GW), known to be technically feasible and economically viable, it is facing a shortage, with India being a net exporter of power to Nepal. Tapping some of the country’s hydropower potential could help bridge that gap and serve as a source of power for India. While India has been procuring hydropower from Bhutan, it is also supplying electricity to Bangladesh. The plan now is to include the option of building an overhead electricity link with Sri Lanka.

“Nand Lal Sharma apprised Hon’ble Prime Minister & Hon’ble Dy. Prime Minister with the progress of 900 MW Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project. He also thanked the Hon’ble Prime Minister for allocating 679 MW Lower Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project to SJVN," the statement added.

India on its part is also trying to create a common pool for neighbouring countries. Speaking at Mint’s annual energy conclave in March last year, power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh said he aims to have a regional power grid and market, which includes Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. India has already notified cross-border trading regulations. The proposed market, which will include Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, could aid regional peace and improve utilization of generation assets.

“Nand Lal Sharma told that, SJVN Arun-3 Power Development Co. (SAPDC), a wholly owned subsidiary of SJVN Ltd is executing 900 MW Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project in Nepal. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India & Hon’ble Prime Minister of Nepal jointly laid the Foundation of SJVN’s 900 MW Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project. The total project cost is estimated to be 7,000 crore (NPR 11,200 crore), which includes both generation and transmission part," the statement said.

Cross-border energy trade is a key part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s neighbourhood-first policy, with plans to build energy links to check China’s growing influence. India’s energy diplomacy ranges from cross-border electricity trade to supplying petroleum products and setting up liquefied natural gas terminals.

“The Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project (900 MW) is located on Arun River in Sankhuwasabha District of Eastern Nepal. The Run-of-River scheme envisages 70 meters high concrete gravity Dam and Head Race Tunnel (HRT) of 11.74 Kilometers with underground Power House containing four generating units of 225 MW each," the statement added.

With a present capacity of 2.01 gigawatt (GW), SJVN plans to become a 12 GW company by 2030 and is also looking at green energy fuel sources such as solar and wind. It outbid NTPC Ltd to emerge as the preferred bidder for PTC India Ltd’s MW wind power assets spread across Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh as reported by Mint earlier.

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