KATHMANDU, June 8 :
Officials at the Ministry of Energy have started internal discussion to respond to the proposal on energy cooperation forwarded recently by the Indian government.
Though the officials denied divulging details of the proposal, they are hopeful that it would lead to signing of Power Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries.
This is the first time that the southern neighbor has communicated to Nepal formally, showing interest to forge agreement on energy cooperation or signing the much awaited PTA.
MoE had received the proposal two weeks ago via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nepal had forwarded a proposal to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for PTA to India in 2010 following the secretary-level meeting of Nepal-India Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) held in Pokhara. India, however, hadn´t responded to the proposal.
Nepal, having abundant potential for hydropower development, is eager to sign agreement for energy trading with India as it would help the country overcome acute power crisis through energy exchange at the beginning and to earn foreign currency by selling hydropower later on.
Officials involved in the discussion describe the correspondence as a gesture from the southern neighbor for opening of doors for energy trading. They say PTA with India would help reduce the growing trade deficit with India.
India is Nepal´s largest trading partner and the trade deficit with India is increasing with every passing year.
In the proposal, India has also proposed to start cooperation in the renewable energy sector.
Keshav Dhwaj Adhikari, spokesperson at the energy ministry, confirmed that they had received proposal from India. He, however, said they were yet to study the proposal.
An energy ministry official, preferring anonymity, said the proposal by India should be taken as a good gesture. He hoped that it would the pave way for further bilateral agreement between the two countries.
Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Chhetri, who was also involved in drafting of MoU back in 2010, is leading the discussion at the ministry to prepare the document.
Khadga Bahadur Bisht, president of Independent Power Producers Association of Nepal (IPPAN), said the proposed PTA will give momentum to hydropower development in the country as several export-oriented hydropower projects are waiting for the agreement.
“Nepal-India joint company for trading electricity and a separate entity for managing cross-boarder transmission line is also needed for energy trading,” Bisht suggested.
With the formation of government under Narendra Modi, India is expected to achieve rapid economic growth. To achieve growth, India will need huge amount of energy.
India has already started to import energy from Bhutan and also exports to Bangladesh.
Source : Republica