ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and India have agreed to form a joint working committee to finalise a 500MW electricity project after a successful visit of a Pakistani delegation to India this week, according to sources in the ministry of water and power.

Ministry sources, on the condition of anonymity, told TheNation on Friday that Pak delegation has come back after having successful talks with Indian counterparts in New Delhi. The two sides agreed to constitute a joint working committee to resolve the matters related to technical, commercial, construction and regulatory issues involved in import of 500MW electricity from India.

During the two-day technical talks held on March 5 and 6, India expressed its willingness to follow the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was earlier approved by the federal cabinet of Pakistan, and agreed to supply electricity with high-voltage, direct current (HV, DC) system via Wahga to Lahore, they added.

“After finalising the nitty-gritty of proposed 500MW power import from India, power ministry would seek final approval from the federal cabinet to bring power to Pakistan”, a senior official at power ministry said. He also said that formal signing of an agreement regarding power trade would be made in near future.

Pakistan is facing severe energy shortages and had sought as much as 500MW electricity from India through a transmission line from Indian Punjab to Lahore. The incumbent government is very keen on importing power from the neighbouring country. Initially, 500MW power would be imported from India and the quantum would be expanded later on. Pakistan is already purchasing electricity from western neighbour Iran.

Pakistan’s four-member delegation comprising experts of water and power ministry went to New Delhi on March 4. The delegation was led by Additional Secretary Sohail Akber Shah and included Joint Secretary (Power) Zargham Khan, NTDC (National Transmission Dispatch Company) Planning Division General Manager Rehan Shafiq and NTDC Deputy Director Muhammad Wasim.

It is learnt that Grid Corporation of India Limited would construct the interconnection falling in Indian side while National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) would construct the Pakistani part of the required transmission system. Both countries would finance the cost of infrastructure to be established in their respective territories.

Energy experts, when contacted, said that viewing current enormous power shortfall being faced by India, it has become necessary to get government guarantee from New Delhi for sustained and smooth supply of power to Pakistan. They feared that India might not be ready to export demanded (500MW) electricity to Pakistan due to widening gap between supply and demand of power. In August, Indian and Pakistani experts had agreed to conduct feasibility studies and identify points for the proposed import of electricity.

Later on, the World Bank (WB) funded pre-feasibility and also worked out the delivered cost of electricity to be imported from India at 10-11 US cents per unit. However, the feasibility study would be done after the experts of both the government finalise the issues relating to the system compatibility and the points of transmitting the electricity from India and receiving the electricity in Pakistan.

Reportedly, one interconnection would be established in the suburbs of Wagha/Attari border and it would be on 400 kV DC or 500 kV DC depending on the joint determination of experts of NTDC and Grid Corporation of India Limited. The interconnection would run on 22 kV AC in the beginning phase but would convert to DC on commissioning of back-to-back converter station.