Energy Ministers -> Working Group -> Expert Groups (04)
The process of regional cooperation in the energy sector began in January 2000 with the establishment of a Technical Committee on Energy. The Council of Ministers, recognizing that this vital area requires focused attention, approved the creation of a specialized Working Group on Energy in January 2004. The Working Group has met eight times since its establishment. Similarly the Energy Ministers so far have held five meetings since 2005 in Islamabad, New Delhi, Colombo, Dhaka and New Delhi.
The Energy Ministers Meeting held in Colombo in January 2009, decided formation of Expert Groups for different commodities and services. As a follow-up the Working Group on Energy constituted Expert Groups on (i) Oil and Gas; (ii) Electricity; (iii) Renewable Energy; and (iv) Technology/Knowledge Sharing (including energy efficiency, coal, etc.).
Expert Group on Oil and Gas (Lead Country Bangladesh & Sri Lanka)
The Expert Group on Oil and Gas has met once (Dhaka, 25-26 July 2011) and finalized its Terms of Reference (ToR) and Work Plan.
Expert Group on Electricity (Lead Country India)
The Expert Group on Electricity has met on three occasions. The Expert Group was mandated to prepare/finalize the SAARC Inter-Governmental Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation (Electricity). Other matters pertaining to Electricity are also covered by the Expert Group.
Expert Group on Renewable Energy (Lead Country Pakistan)
The Expert Group on Renewable Energy has met on three occasions and has finalized its Terms of Reference and Work Plan. The Fourth Meeting of Expert Group is scheduled for 17-18 April 2017 in Islamabad.
Expert Group on Technology/knowledge sharing (including energy efficiency, coal etc.)
The Expert Group on Technology/knowledge sharing (including energy efficiency, coal etc.) met once (New Delhi, 29-30 May 2012) and finalized its Terms of Reference and Work Plan.
The Fifth Meeting of SAARC Energy Ministers (16-17 October 2014) noted that all the Expert Groups have already finalized their ToRs and Work Plans and urged the lead Member States to continue convening Expert Group meetings regularly, preferably on an annual basis.
SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation (Electricity)
The SAARC Framework Agreement was signed at the Eighteenth SAARC Summit (Kathmandu, 26-27 November 2014). The Leaders welcomed the signing of the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity). Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have ratified the Agreement.
Transport Ministers -> Inter-Governmental Group -> Technical Committee
At the Twelfth SAARC Summit (Islamabad, 4-6 January 2004), the Heads of State or Government emphasized that for accelerated and balanced economic growth it is essential to strengthen transportation, transit and communication links across the region.
Subsequently SAARC Regional Multimodal Transport Study (SRMTS) was conducted with the financial and technical assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in order to enhance transport connectivity among the Member States of SAARC to promote intra-regional trade and travel. SRMTS consisted of two Phases. Phase-I was conducted by the National Consultants of each Member State. Regional Consultants conducted Phase-II.
The Report of the SRMTS was considered by the Thirty-second Session of the Standing Committee (Dhaka, 31 July – 1 August 2006) which emphasized the need to consider and prioritize the important recommendations therein. The Standing Committee also agreed to establish an Inter-governmental Group on Transport at the level of Secretaries, supported by Experts in the relevant sectors. The First Meeting of the Inter-governmental Group on Transport (Islamabad, 28 December 2006), inter-alia, prioritized the recommendations contained in the SRMTS. These prioritizations are under two categories - (i) to be implemented within 1-5 years, (ii) to be implemented within 6-10 years.
The Thirty-third Session of the Standing Committee (New Delhi, 31 March – 1 April 2007), inter-alia, directed that the Inter-governmental Group on Transport should identify and develop sub-regional and regional projects based on the important recommendations contained in the Report of the SRMTS for approval of higher SAARC bodies and that the Inter-governmental Group on Transport may develop the draft regional agreements required for implementing the recommendations of the SRMTS. Further, the Standing Committee decided that the SRMTS should be extended to include Afghanistan.
The recommendations contained in SRMTS have been examined by the IGG on Transport. The IGG has come up with certain prioritized recommendations for implementation with the approval of SAARC Transport Ministers.
The SAARC Transport Ministers have met Thrice (New Delhi, 31 August 2007; Colombo, 25 July 2009; New Delhi, 23 November 2010) and the Inter-Governmental Group on Transport has held five meetings so far (Islamabad, 28 December 2006; New Delhi. 30 August 2007; Colombo, 24 July 2009; New Delhi, 22 November 2010, 30 September 2014).
SAARC Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service
Asian Development Bank has submitted Feasibility Study Report for SAARC Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service. A Meeting of Expert to deliberate on Feasibility Study Report was held in Colombo on 01-02 December 2015. The meeting was attended by the representatives from India, Sri Lanka, Asian Development Bank, SAARC Development Fund and the Private Sector by invitation. The Meeting decided to evaluate the Ferry & Cargo Service between Sri Lanka and India initially. Maldives, Bangladesh and Pakistan may join at the later stage.
The First Meeting of the Ministers of Science and Technology (New Delhi, 16 September 2008) adopted the Action Plan on Science and Technology, and a number of short-term activities have been undertaken as a follow-up to the Action Plan. These activities were aimed to promote cooperation as envisaged in the Action Plan on Science & Technology titled “Themes for Cooperation”. Third Meeting of the Ministers of Science and Technology is expected to be held this year in Dhaka
The convening of the Technical Committee Meeting on Science & Technology is a regular mechanism in this important area of cooperation. The Fifth Meeting of the Committee was held in New Delhi in August 2010.
SAARC VISA EXEMPTION SCHEME
SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme is in operation since 1992, and currently, there are 24 categories of entitled persons (Group A = 19, Group B = 5). The ‘SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme’ has been categorized by the Council of Ministers (New Delhi, 7-8 December 2007as follows:
i. SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme: Which covers Dignitaries, Government Officials, participants of SAARC meetings and officials of the Secretariat and its Regional Centres.
ii. Liberalization of Visa Scheme: This Category covers general/public categories including businessmen, sportsmen, journalists, and heads of institutions/organizations etc.