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Center pulls back Punjab’s plan to sell power to Pak

The Punjab government’s plan to sell surplus power to Pakistan may not finally see the light of the day. With the Central government objecting to the proposal due to ongoing tension between the neighbours, Punjab’s ambitious project is unlikely to takeoff anytime soon.

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The state government was hoping to sell 500 MW of power to Pakistan, and the Central power grid at Amritsar was designated as a station from where power would have been generated to the neighbouring country.

Sources, however, say that a lot of work needs to be done on both sides before an arrangement to sell power on commercial rates to neighbouring country is carried out. To make this project a success, Pakistan too will have to build a massive infrastructure including dedicated grid and high voltage transmission line. Not just that, the government will have to spend heavily to transmit electricity from Patti grid near Amritsar, to Wagah border.

But all that will remain a dream as the senior officials confirm that the Punjab state government is unlikely to get the permission from the Union government, any time soon. Even though the state government has strongly pitched the idea of selling electricity to Pakistan in a bid to strengthen trade and economic links with the neighbours, things look pretty grim.

Ask about their future plans, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited Chairman and Managing Director, K D Chaudhary, admits that they are awaiting a green light from Delhi. “The union government has to take the final decision. There are many issues involved in the process. The Pakistan transmission lines, the grid issues are yet to be resolved. We have sent the proposal to the union power ministry, but nothing has happened so far,” Chaudhary said.

If the Union ministry’s objection is one part of the story, there is another side to it as well. Even though the Punjab government claims to have surplus power, it had to start privately-run thermal plants to better the supplies. But even then, things haven’t improved much. The privately-run plant in Rajpura is the only one fully operational, while the other one in Talwandi Sabo is yet to start fully. The fate of the JVK Goindwal Sahib plant still hangs in balance as it has no coal supply.

This year, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had to purchase 4,000 MW of power during peak summer season. Last year too, it bought 2,600 MW of power.

Despite all these, the New and Renewable Energy minister Bikram Singh Majithia says that Punjab has now become the torchbearer for others in the power generation sector. He also claims that the state is soon becoming a favourite destination for the national and international investors. While, Punjab had only 9 MW solar power generation a few years back, Majithia claims that the state will generate 541 MW of solar power by March next year.

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