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The amount of reactive power margin available in a system determines its proximity to voltage instability under normal and emergency conditions. More the reactive power margin, better is the systems security and vice-versa. A hypothetical way of improving the reactive margin of a synchronous generator is to reduce the real power generation within its mega volt-ampere (MVA) ratings. This real power generation reduction will affect its power contract agreements entered in the electricity market. Owing to this, the benefit that the generator foregoes will have to be compensated by paying them some lost opportunity cost. The objective of this study is three fold. Firstly, the reactive power margins of the generators are evaluated. Secondly, they are improved using a reactive power optimization technique and optimally placed unified power flow controllers. Thirdly, the reactive power capacity exchanges along the tie-lines are evaluated under base case and improved conditions. A detailed analysis of all the reactive power sources and sinks scattered throughout the network is carried out in the study. Studies are carried out on a real life, three zone, 72-bus equivalent Indian southern grid considering normal and contingency conditions with base case operating point and optimised results presented.