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ower project with India to be completed in 36 months

The project of 500MW electricity trade between Pakistan and India would be completed in 36 months, including the studies for its feasibility, and pricing, as well as the laying of transmission lines to turn it into a reality.

“Technical studies for the 500 MW project would be completed within 18 months, including pricing issues, while the remaining 18 months would be required to actualize the project,” the World Bank’s Chief Economist for the South Asian region, Kalpana Kochhar, said addressing a journalist workshop on regional cooperation, organised by the WB, on Tuesday.

Answering a query through video conferencing from Washington D.C, the WB Chief Economist said that it would involve the laying of transmission lines for a short distance to allow the project to materialize, but she could not give any figures for the cost involved on a per kilometer basis.

Earlier, in her remarks, she had said that with enhanced trade ties between India and Pakistan, there would be some people who would lose out on a short term basis, and had advised some sort of compensation package. “We are happy that both sides are moving quickly to normalize trade relations,” she said and added that there would be stumbling blocks on the way. But she said that many things were different this time, indicating that this process would continue.

When asked about the WB’s role on the compensation package for those who lose out on a short term basis, after increased trade between Indo-Pak, she replied that the Bank was not involved in the talks between two sides but was only an observer. There was commitment on both sides she said, happy with the speed that things were moving.

She said that poverty was concentrated in the landlocked and bordering areas and that the WB would analyse how much poverty could be impacted by enhancing regional cooperation.

Other than the Wagha border, the other area for India and Pakistan to enhance trade, was energy cooperation. With no other regional energy sharing mechanism in this region this project seemed to set a precedent.

Diep Nguyan-Van Houtee, Senior Operation Officer WB South Asian region stated in her presentation that Pakistan had placed a formal request with the World Bank (WB) for multi-million dollar assistance for the import of 500 megawatt (MW) electricity from India.

With the watershed developments between India and Pakistan in mind, she said that load shedding in Pakistan’s industrial had resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Sri Lanka was the only country, which had a surplus of electricity, while all the other countries were energy deficient.

There was low people-to-people contact in the region, lower than Sub-Saharan Africa. Bangladesh’s exports to the USA and the EU, Sri Lanka and Pakistan were sixty percent but intra-regional trade was the lowest in South Asia.

India’s trade with China was 11 percent, but much less than with Pakistan and it was a major missing market. For Bangladesh, India and Pakistan were missing markets. There was, however, potential for supply chains in South Asia.

The South Asian Region, she said, had the most restrictive trade barriers. India had a more restrictive regime than Pakistan.

In the inaugural session, it was stated that Pakistan and Afghanistan could import electricity from the Central Asian states for reducing shortages in their countries, the World Bank (WB) said.

“Feasibility studies have confirmed the technical and economic viability of exporting summertime electricity surpluses from the existing power plants in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to relieve the power shortages in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the World Bank’s Country Manager for Nepal, Tahseen Sayed, said while inaugurating the journalist’s workshop on Regional Integration in the South Asian states on Tuesday.

She said that South Asia was the least integrated region in the world, where trade was less than 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while in East Asia it stood at 40 percent.

“Trade in energy is negligible,” she said and cited the example of Afghanistan and Nepal which could produce 100,000 MW hydropower, w

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