India and Sri Lanka relaunch talks to link power grids | Latest India News

India and Sri Lanka have resumed talks on connecting their power grids, officials told Reuters on Tuesday, a step that could help New Delhi reduce China’s influence over the struggling island nation. a serious economic crisis.

There was no immediate prospect that the power cuts caused by the crisis could be mitigated by the talks, which are a preliminary effort on a multi-year project that the two sides have explored before.

India has extended billions of dollars in aid to its southern neighbor to tackle the crisis, sparked by a sharp drop in foreign exchange reserves that has blocked imports of essentials such as fuel, disrupting supplies in electricity.

“It’s only at the very beginning of the discussions,” Wasantha Perera, secretary of the Sri Lankan energy ministry, told Reuters, without giving further details.

Protests and political unrest sparked by soaring inflation, a currency devaluation and shortages have prompted the nation of 22 million to enter talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan program, also supported by India.

Now officials in both countries are turning their attention to a project that has made little headway since it was first proposed more than a decade ago, to connect neighbors with a mile-long transmission line under the Indian Ocean.

The grid connection project was mooted during talks with India’s energy ministry in March, when Basil Rajapaksa, then Sri Lanka’s finance minister, visited New Delhi to ask for help, said said a source familiar with the matter.

“It will be mutually beneficial,” added the source, who requested anonymity because the interviews were private.

The foreign ministries of India and Sri Lanka did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The project was among the main objectives of a strategic document published by the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in India last July.

“This would enable Sri Lanka to obtain power during operational maintenance and droughts, and also export excess generation to India,” the document says.

Almost two-thirds of Sri Lanka’s electricity is generated by oil and coal-fired power stations, while hydroelectricity makes up the rest.

Its total daily electricity demand is only a fraction of India’s, and meeting peak demand can be a challenge in times of drought.

In search of influence

Beijing and New Delhi have long been vying for influence on the island, strategically located just off the southern tip of India, and Indian aid in recent weeks has ballooned amid a growing crisis. ‘worse that has brought thousands of people to the streets.

The grid connectivity project could be among New Delhi’s demands on Sri Lanka, which has also secured Chinese infrastructure deals in recent years, a source with knowledge of Indian thinking told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

So far, India has provided around $1.9 billion in aid through lines of credit and swaps, and is ready to commit up to another $2 billion to help Sri Lanka to face its worst financial crisis since its independence from Britain in 1948.

The plan to link the two networks has been in the works for years, with the neighbors signing a pact in 2010 on feasibility studies for an undersea power cable.

A study by the Power Grid Corporation of India envisaged the deployment of a 500 megawatt (MW) or 1,000 MW subsea transmission system, the public company said in an annual report in 2015.

The shortest distance between India and Sri Lanka is a narrow strip of ocean called the Palk Strait, which is about 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) wide, although the length of a cable sub- sailor depends on his alignment.

Long-span submarine power cables include the NordLink, between Germany and Norway, which is approximately 623 km (387 miles) long.

Harry D. Gonzalez