Bangladesh-India-Nepal talks on power trade and corridor this month

Bangladesh is going to discuss power trade and transmission corridor issues with India and Nepal this month. A 13-member delegation, led by the Power Division Senior Secretary Dr Ahmed Kaikaus, will fly on December 19 to New Delhi and later to Kathmandu from there, an official said.

Bangladesh has plans to import 9,000 MW of electricity from Nepal by 2030. To this end, Bangladesh also signed a preliminary contract with an Indian company, GMR Energy, to import electricity from its power project in Nepal. For bringing the power from Nepal, Bangladesh needs to use some corridors in India.

However, the government is going to import hydro electricity from Nepal at a rate of US$ 6.6 cents per unit which is equivalent to Tk 5.75. Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and Indian company, GMR, have fixed the price following several rounds of negotiations recently.

According to Power Division, the issue to allow India to transmit 3,000 MW of electricity from Indian north-eastern region to eastern region using Bangladesh as a corridor is likely to dominate the Joint Steering Committee meeting scheduled to be held on December 20 and 21 at New Delhi.

It will also discuss Bangladesh's plan to import power from Nepal and Bhutan using the Indian territory with Indian Power Secretary Sanjeev Nandan Sahai. The team will fly from India to Nepal to discuss the GMR power project and other power related cooperation issues (on December 23 and 24) there.

'The technical committee on Bangladesh-India power sector cooperation has finalised a draft in this regard, however, we will discuss the issue for narrowing down the gaps and review the detail of the report," a senior official of the Power Division said.

"Wide ranging issues for cooperation in the power sector will be discussed in the meeting. The committee members will review the progress of the Rampal coal-fired power plant, import of power from Nepal and India by Bangladesh, the establishment of joint venture power plants by private sector in India and the import of more power from India through Bheramara and Cumilla borders’ these are the agendas of the meeting," he added.

Nepal have proposed to trade electricity with Bangladesh in a cost-effective way by paying surcharges for using Indian transmission lines as fixed by Indian regulations rather than transacting power through an Indian commercial entity acting as an intermediary between Nepal and Bangladesh.

In June, Bangladesh and Nepal had decided to explore possibilities of using Indian transmission lines passing through the Siliguri corridor, also known as Chicken's Neck, following amendments to cross-border energy trading regulations by India. The southern neighbour in March relaxed earlier provisions related to cross-border energy trade and gave explicit recognition to tripartite arrangements.

The 15th Joint Steering Committee meeting between Bangladesh and India has also agreed to build transmission lines in a synchronous mode for smooth exchange of power between the countries. Nepal and India have also agreed to invest in a second high capacity cross-border power line, the 400 kV New Butwal-Gorakhpur Transmission Line, to synchronise the power grid of the two countries.

Authorities from the two countries have planned to study and invest in 20 major hydropower projects proposed in the white paper released by the Energy Ministry in May 2018. As per the Nepal Electricity Authority’s estimates, electricity generation in the country will surpass domestic power demand by around 1000 megawatts within a year, and by 8000 megawatts within the fiscal year 2025-26.