Nepal is close to striking a deal with India on power trade, and a similar deal could be signed between Dhaka and Kathmandu, said Nepalese Energy Minister Radha Kumari Gyawali.
“We had a fruitful and productive meeting to forge cooperation in the power sector between the two countries,” Gyawali said at a media briefing after daylong ministerial talks on power sector cooperation in Dhaka.
Nepal has 83,000-megawatt hydro-power potential, but the country suffers from a severe power crisis as it is able to generate barely 800MW and imports electricity from India during winter.
The country is expected to become power surplus by 2016, and signing of the power trade agreements will allow Nepal to export electricity to India and other countries.
Bangladesh, which has doubled its power generation in the last five years, is also struggling to meet its electricity demand, although only half of the population are connected to grid power.
Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, led the host country at the meeting, while Gyawali led the visiting side. Both ministers termed the meeting fruitful.
Gyawali said the two sides discussed and reviewed current energy situations and the future power demand in the two countries. There will be a significant increase in demand of energy in the years to come in course of development.
She said they also agreed that efforts would be put in place to identify and develop joint power projects for mutual benefits.
“We also share views on potential ways and means for utilisation of tremendous hydropower potential for the mutual benefits in the region under the Saarc regional and sub-regional framework.”
She said Nepal is encouraged from the favourable environment for hydropower development and cross-border power trade cooperation.
Gyawali welcomed Bangladesh government’s initiative for trilateral process involving Bangladesh, Nepal and India.
“We look forward to participating bin next round of meeting to move forward the sub-regional approach,” she said.
Hamid said the key focus of the meeting was on how Bangladesh can import hydropower from Nepal and invest in Nepal.
He said Bangladesh, India and Nepal all can benefit if hydropower is produced in Nepal through power sector cooperation, with the power brought to Bangladesh through grid inter-connectivity en route India. “Nepal can change its economic scenario with its vast resource.”
He said Bangladesh has shown interest in investing in hydropower projects in Nepal and purchase power from the country. “Nepal has agreed to our interests.”
Hamid said the issue of regional power sharing among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal was also discussed.
Bangladesh plans to import 3,500 MW of electricity from Saarc countries by 2030 under its power sector master plan. However, Hamid said the regional share to the plan will increase significantly.
At present, Bangladesh is importing 500MW of electricity from India through grid interconnectivity, with a process underway to bring in another 600 MW from the country, according to the Power Development Board.
Bangladesh and Nepal plan to pen a memorandum of understanding on power cooperation during the next round of bilateral meeting in Kathmandu in December this year.
Hamid said the Nepalese delegation has firmly said that there will be no objection from their side if Bangladesh buys power from GMR, an Indian company, which is working in the country to produce 900MW from a hydropower project.
Gyawali said: “That project is taken by private parties. It is the wish of the private parties. We have given that project through international bidding. So, now the ball is there with GMR.” On power connectivity, Hamid said: “Both the countries have agreed on the issue. Subject to discussion with India, we will confirm the connectivity.”
The state minister added: “The Indian high commissioner has already met me and assured about his government’s full cooperation on the power connectivity.”
Hamid however said it might take as long as 15 years for Bangladesh to benefit from hydropower cooperation between the two countries as such projects are time-consuming. He said the Nepalese delegation also showed interest in replicating Bangladesh’s Rural Electrification Board model in their country.
Source : Star Business Report