B’desh, India and Nepal to enforce transport deal

  • Dhaka urges Delhi to facilitate power import from Nepal
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
A joint statement issued after Swaraj’s visit to Dhaka says the three countries will move ahead with the motor vehicle agreement

Oct 25, 2017-Bangladesh, India and Nepal are preparing to implement the Motor Vehicle Agreement signed by four countries after Bhutan’s parliament failed to ratify the BBIN agreement.

The MVA agreement was signed in June 2015 with an aim to implement it within a year. Subsequently, Bangladesh, India and Nepal endorsed the agreement from their national parliaments but Bhutan failed to do so.  

Bhutan has officially notified the three countries of its inability to endorse the agreement right now. The kingdom also said the matter is up to the next government which will be formed after the 2018 elections.

The BBIN agenda figured in meetings when Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj visited Bangladesh earlier this week. A joint bilateral statement issued after Swaraj’s visit says the three countries will move ahead with the motor agreement. 

“We agreed that BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement will be implemented between Bangladesh, India and Nepal through exchange of letters keeping provisions for Bhutan to join later,” the joint statement reads.

The pact signed in 2015 allows member states to operate their cargo and passenger vehicles in each other’s territories without having to clear customs at the borders. Bhutan’s main opposition party and transporters argue that free movement of foreign vehicles will add to pollution and affect tourism and local culture in the country.

In the beginning, a Saarc Motor Vehicle Agreement had been proposed, but Pakistan rejected it. Subsequently, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal came together and signed a sub-regional agreement. The BBIN gathered momentum after the 18th Saarc summit held in Kathmandu in 2014.

During Swaraj’s visit, Bangladesh also urged India to facilitate the process of importing electricity from Nepal. “India also agreed to facilitate import of electricity to Bangladesh from hydropower projects in Nepal,” the joint statement reads.

During her India visit in April, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina had requested Indian PM Narendra Modi for facilitation of cross-border power sector cooperation with Nepal. Officials said Bangladesh, which grapples with power outages, wants to purchase power directly from Nepal. For that, Bangladesh seeks Delhi’s support for electricity transmission through the Indian territory. Bangladesh also wants to sign a power deal with Bhutan. Currently, Bangladesh is importing 660 megawatt electricity from India.

Published: 25-10-2017 07:34

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