Indo-Bhutanese power line commissioned

New Delhi, June 20:

The 1,200-km East-North Tala Power Transmission System to bring electricity from Bhutan to India was declared commissioned by prime minister Manmohan Singh at a function here today.

The Rs 28 billion Indian Currency (IC) ($680 million) project has been set up by Powerlinks Transmission, a 51:49 joint venture between the state-run Power Grid Corp and Tata Power, to provide electricity to Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Electricity for the system will be transferred from the 1,020 MW Tala Hydroelectric Power Project in Bhutan as part of the pact between India and the Druk kingdom. The project had started generation in July last year.

“The Tala hydroelectric project and the Tala transmission system are of immense

national significance,”

the prime minister said at the function, adding the two projects were also important symbols of regional cooperation in South Asia.

He also thanked Bhutanese king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck for support extended by his kingdom to the project. “The Tala project is also a symbol of the potential of hydropower. I do hope that we can replicate our highly successful, win-win model

of bilateral cooperation with Bhutan in the power sector with Nepal too.”

Though India has been exploring hydropower projects in Nepal, which also has immense hydropower potential, none of the big projects have taken off so far primarily due to political instability.

Speaking on the larger issue of addressing India’s energy needs, Manmohan Singh said he hoped to see that special courts to dispose of cases of power thefts were made operational soon. Transmission losses and power theft must be curbed.

“The time has come for us to address the challenge on the energy front on a war-footing. Availability of quality power at affordable cost has emerged as the most important constraint on the pace of our development,” he said.

“People of our country are not going to wait endlessly for us to sort out our administrative, political and theological problems,” he said, calling for an end to what he termed as ‘complacency of the past’.