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India, Sri Lanka to link grids as South Asia thinks big on energy

India links up South Asia with regional energy connectivity (Photo: ANI)

Sri Lanka is working on prioritising regional grid connectivity with India with the support of the World Bank.

Sri Lankan Power and Energy Minister, Kanchana Wijesekara said that regional energy integration with grid connectivity between Sri Lanka and India will be implemented by 2030. He also said that regional energy integration has been discussed between the two nations for more than two decades.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Wijesekara said: “… World Bank has been assisting CEB to understand the technical requirements & business models to implement the project. Discussed the plans related to energy integration & renewable energy development with World Bank’s Director of Regional Integration, Cecile Fruman & Country Manager, Chiyo Kanda yesterday”.

Sri Lankan website Economy Next reported that under the latest plans discussed in 2022, New Delhi and Colombo decided to build an over-water cable to link the power grids of the two countries instead of a submarine cable. The joint venture project will be carried out by Power Grid Corporation India and the Ceylon Electricity Board.

Plans are afoot to link up Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.The linking of the India and Sri Lanka power grids has been under discussion since the 1970s.

With the Indian Ocean island nation going through an economic crisis, the linking of the grids will allow the northern parts of Sri Lanka to sell electricity to India helping generate revenue for the cash-strapped economy. Exporting renewable energy from the northern parts to India would constitute one of export plans for the nation.

The two nations are separated by just 55 kms of the Palk Strait from Rameshwaram in India to Mannar in Sri Lanka. As the economic crisis hit hard in 2021-2022, dozens of desperate families took to boats and headed to India to escape food shortages, rising inflation and long queues for fuel.


India supported Sri Lanka with $4 billion in 2022 and another $1 billion in 2023. New Delhi has also lobbied with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide a bail-out loan to the island nation. India also persuaded the Quad grouping of Australia, Japan and the US to help Sri Lanka tide over its economic crisis.

Separately, India is purchasing power from Nepal and also being a facilitator for Kathmandu to sell its surplus power to Bangladesh.

As an engine of growth in South Asia, India is linking up with its South Asian neighbours as part of its Neighbourhood First policy for connectivity through energy, transport and data corridors.

Separately it is providing medical and food aid as well as building physical infrastructure and building human resource capacity in all of South Asia through its Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) projects.

Also read: As the first responder in South Asia, how should India respond to rising instability?