Dhaka, Bangladesh
Hydropower coop with India under discussion

Hydropower coop with India under discussion

Dhaka, Thimphu welcome move for tripartite initiative

News Report Bangladesh has long tried to import hydropower from two Himalayan countries--Bhutan and Nepal-even by setting up hydroelectric plants over there, but to no avail, though some initial agreements were reached at. A latest disclosure hints at some headway. Hydroelectricity transmission from either Bhutan or Nepal involves a third country-India-as supply has to the channeled crossing over Indian territories. Any such bilateral trade transaction has to be on the basis of trilateral deal with India for the use of its land as corridor, experts and officials say. A recent move from India is seen as a progress on trilateral cooperation in this power sector-one of renewable energy sources much needed to stem the tide of climate change threatening humanity. India issued a new cross-border power-trading regulation, which will go a long way in helping Bangladesh import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan using Indian transmission lines to meet growing energy needs, officials had said. The power ministry of India approved the "Guidelines for Import/Export (Cross Border) of Electricity 2018" on December 18. In case of tripartite agreements, cross-border trade in electricity across India shall be allowed under the overall framework of bilateral agreements signed between the Indian government and the government of the respective neighbouring country or countries of the participating entities, it says. The just-held two-country summit talks between Bangladesh and Bhutan might lead to further progress in this regard, as cooperation in hydropower sector was one of the major matters on the agenda. It is reflected in the joint communiqué capping the talks held during Bhutanese premier Dr Lotay Tshering's tour. It says Bangladesh and Bhutan think the proposed trilateral cooperation with India in hydroelectric power can further "strengthen regional cooperation, encourage the use of renewable energy and mitigate climate-change challenges". Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her counterpart Minister Dr Lotay Tshering welcomed the ongoing discussions among Bangladesh, Bhutan and India on the proposed trilateral cooperation in hydroelectric power. They noted that a trilateral meeting of the power secretaries could be held in this regard, according to the joint statement issued on Sunday night on the Bhutanese Prime Minister's four-day state visit to Bangladesh. Bangladesh needs huge gas and power to cater growing domestic demand from households, industries and businesses. It imports some electricity from India. Dhaka has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kathmandu on electricity import. The first meeting of a corresponding joint working group and joint steering committee was held in Kathmandu on December 3-4. China has also recently offered to export hydroelectricity to Bangladesh as well as Myanmar piping through Myanmar. The Bhutanese PM's visit yielded a number of bilateral documents, including SOP Standard Operating Procedure) for the operationalisation of the MoU on Use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit Cargoes between Bangladesh and the government of Bhutan. The Bhutanese Prime Minister wrapped up Monday his four-day state visit to Bangladesh that is expected to further "strengthen the bonds of friendship" between the two countries. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and State Minister for Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman saw the Bhutanese Prime Minister off at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the morning. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque was among others present. The two Prime Ministers noted the expanding bilateral trade and acknowledged its importance in further cementing the friendship between the two countries. They agreed to allow duty-free access of additional 16 items proposed by Bhutan and 10 items proposed by Bangladesh for which both sides shall expedite the process. The two prime ministers noted that the agreement on the movement of goods in transit between Bangladesh and Bhutan will be finalised soon by the next Commerce Secretary-level meeting. They welcomed the signing of the SOP for the operationalisation of the MoU on the use of inland waterways for the transportation of bilateral trade and transit cargoes between Bangladesh and Bhutan. The Prime Minister of Bhutan recalled Bangladesh's offer of internet bandwidth and satellite services, and welcomed the offer. Dr Tshering paid the visit from April 12-15 April, coinciding with the festive period of the Bangla New Year Pahela Baishakh, at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Prime Minister of Bhutan and the delegation joined the people of Bangladesh in the celebration of Pahela Baishakh, the Bangla New Year, on April 14. Dr Tshering visited Mymensingh Medical College, the Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Bimstec Secretariat. He extended an invitation to Sheikh Hasina to visit Bhutan at a convenient time. He was accompanied by his spouse Dr Ugyen Dema, the Foreign Minister, the Health Minister, other senior government officials of Bhutan, and a business delegation. (Inputs taken from agencies)

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