Indian help sought for Nepal-Bangladesh trade

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, NEW DELHI
Nepal is also keen to export energy to Bangladesh in the future as it is on track to be an energy surplus country (at least in the wet season) in a couple of years

Apr 10, 2017-Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to facilitate cross-border power trade between Bangladesh and Nepal over Indian territory.

Hasina, who is currently in New Delhi on a four-day official visit, made the request during a meeting with her Indian counterpart on Saturday. 

“Prime Minister Hasina requested Prime Minister Modi for facilitation of cross-border power sector cooperation with Nepal,” said the India-Bangladesh joint statement issued on Saturday on the occasion of the state visit of the Bangladeshi prime minster to India.

Bangladesh, according to Indian officials present at the meeting, is facing an acute shortage of energy and wants to purchase power directly from Nepal. Towards this end, Bangladesh wants India’s support for a transmission line. 

This plan has already been discussed at the meetings of the sub-regional body BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal). A number of Bangladeshis have shown interest in investing in hydropower projects in Nepal under the same framework agreement. “Under the BBIN framework, Bangladesh is negotiating with the government of Nepal to develop some projects. There will be a request to India to provide transmission facility by charging some fees,” said a high-level government official. Nepal is also keen to export energy to Bangladesh in the future as it is on track to be an energy surplus country (at least in the wet season) in a couple of years. When Energy Minister Janardan Sharma visited Bangladesh last December, the Bangladeshi prime minister had also expressed interest in investing in hydropower in Nepal.

During the meeting, the two countries agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together in hydropower development. Immediately after returning from Bangladesh, Sharma directed ministry officials to draft an MoU and send it to Dhaka for approval. Bangladesh also evinced its desire to invest in hydroelectricity in Nepal during the 9th South Asian Economic Summit it hosted in October.

On the sidelines of the event, Commerce Minister Romi Gauchan Thakali and his Bangladeshi counterpart Tofail Ahmed signed an agreement to build two hydroelectric plants capable of generating more than 1,600 MW in Nepal.

Published: 10-04-2017 08:16

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