Licence necessary to import electricity from neighbouring countries: DGFT

Written by Rituparna Bhuyan | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 11 2009, 04:44am hrs
In a bid to monitor import of electricity from power plants in the neighbouring countries, the government on Wednesday clarified that electricity from overseas generation facilities will be allowed in to the country only if a licence is obtained.

A notification by Directorate General Of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Friday said import of electrical energy has been put under the restricted category and will be allowed through a licence that it will issue in consultation with the power, external affairs and the commerce ministry.

The government move is aimed at ensuring that when power from these neighbouring countries is wheeled in to India, they follow domestic guidelines associated with transmission and distribution, which is overseen by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and similar institutions in states.

According to CBEC guidelines, electric power has a tariff code of 27160000 and attracts an import duty of Rs 2,000 per 1,000 kwh.

The notification also means that power produced in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) - which are custom bonded tax free areas - will have to follow the same norms if it is wheeled in to the domestic tariff area. India, a power deficient nation, has been exploring avenues of getting power neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and even Myanmar, which has got huge potential for hydro-electric projects.

India has been helping its neighboring countries in the Himalayan belt to develop hydro-electric power projects. According to power ministry, India has set a target of importing 5,000 MW of power from Bhutan by 2020. Hydroelectric power potential in Bhutan has been estimated at 30,000 MW, out of which nearly 24,000 MW has been marked as techno-economically feasible. Nepal has the highest potential for hydroelectric power - 83,000 MW, of which half is exploitable. Myanmar has a potential for generating nearly 40,000 MW of hydro electricity.

Indian companies have already started exploring investment potential in neighboring countries. A consortium lead by GMR bagged the 300MW Upper Karnali Hydro electric power project in Nepal.

The peak power deficit in India is expected to be about 12.6% in 2009-10, as against 11.9% in the year ago period. The country plans to add 78.7 giga watts by the end of the five year period in March 2012.