ISLAMABAD: A plan to import up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from across the eastern border to overcome Pakistan’s energy shortfall has stalled amid rising extremist sentiments in India following the ascension of Narendra Modi.

“How can we push for electricity import [from India] when those at the helm of affairs in India are taking an extremely anti-Pakistan posture,” a senior official from the Ministry of Water and Power told Dawn.

The Modi administration is not only taking a hawkish stance against Pakistan, but is also refusing to come to the negotiating table and is encouraging extremist groups to attack Pakistani visitors, including singers, writers and sportsmen, he said.

Take a look: Indian power plants worth $19bn struggle to find customers

Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif told the Senate last week that Pakistani and Indian officials had discussed plans for importing 500mw from India in April 2012. Two years after these discussions, M/s Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) of India visited Pakistan in April 2014 to discuss matters related to the import.

In the written statement, the minister detailed how AEL had submitted a draft to the ministry, proposing the export of 500-800MWs in two-three years as a starting point, recommending an eventual scale-up to 3500-4000MWs. “But no further progress was made in this regard,” Mr Asif said.

The minister for water and power also informed the Senate about plans to import electricity from Iran and the Central Asian Republics of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

He said that Islamabad was currently negotiating with Tehran for the import of 1000MW, which could be increased to 3000MW, at an estimated tariff ranging between 8 and 11 cents per kilowatt hour.

Separately, Islamabad and Tehran are also in discussion for the import of an additional 30MW to add to the existing 74MW being supplied to Balochistan. In addition, import of 100MW of electricity from Iran was also being negotiated for the Gwadar port at a rate of 6.25 cents per unit.

However, because of the uncertainty over when sanctions against Iran would be lifted, the minister said the exact timeframe for actual power supplies could not be committed. Nevertheless, the import of an additional 30MW for Balochistan would be available by January 2016.

Regarding proposed power imports from the CARs, the minister said that agreements for procurement of electricity from the CASA-1000 project were currently under various phases of implementation.

Pakistan plans to import 1000 to 1300MW from the Tajik and Kyrgyz republics during the summer months, when electricity shortfall touches critical levels because of lower hydropower generation and increased demand.

The minister said that the feasibility study based tariff for the CASA-1000 project imports was put at 9.41 cents per unit in Pakistan. “The supply from the project will start during summer of 2018,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2015

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