A two-day meeting of the joint steering committee (JSC) and joint working committee (JWC) on Bang-ladesh-Nepal power and energy sector cooperation is set to start in Bangladesh today with a target to address the transmission bottleneck in regional electricity trade.
The JWC meeting is scheduled for May 15 while the JSC meeting is set for May 16 at the same venue at Payra power plant in Patuakhali, official sources said.
Ahead of the meetings, Nepalese Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud in a meeting on Saturday urged Bangladeshi private and public sector companies to invest in the hydropower sector in the Himala-yan nation which holds about 60,000 MW of clean energy potentials.
“There is huge potential in the Nepal hydropower sector. India is investing in our country and we also welcome Bangladesh to invest in Nepal,” he said at an event titled: “Realizing Energy Cooperation be-tween Nepal and Bangladesh” at the Embassy of Nepal in Dhaka.
“We want to export power to Bangladesh from Nepal as there is an unlimited market,” he said.
Responding to a question from reporters on impediments in cross border transmission facilities, he said Nepal hoped to resolve the issue as the Nepalese Prime Minister is expected to visit India soon.
“We’re discussing and negotiating with India to resolve the issue. India is now positive in this regard. We’re looking positively to address the issue during the coming tour of the Nepalese Prime Minister to India,” he said.
Official sources in Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said that Bangladesh has a plan to import 500 MW of electricity from Nepal where Indian company GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower is building a 900 MW hydro power project.
But so far, no breakthrough was made in resolving issues on transmission facilities due to Indian lack of clearance, said a top BPDB official spoke to.
Preferring anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue, he said Bangladesh and Nepal were trying to per-suade India to agree a regional arrangement to build a cross border transmission facility to facilitate elec-tricity trade.
“But India always prefers to settle such issues on a bilateral basis”, he added, “Bangladesh and Nepal prefer a tripartite or regional agreement”.
Explaining the matter he said, If Bangladesh wants to import power from Nepal, it has to first sign a deal with India, not directly with Nepal. Then Nepal will sign a separate deal with India, each deal will be bilateral basis.
In this case, Bangladesh has to import electricity from Nepal through an Indian company. Currently, Bangladesh is importing electricity from India through a similar arrangement where Indian company NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) is importing power for BPDB.
As there are no adequate transmission facilities in place, Bangladesh is now trying to start electricity im-port by 50 MW through the existing limited facilities. But still such a plan is not getting clearance due to lack of Indian approval, said the BPDB official.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Steering Committee on Power Sector Cooperation was held in Khulna on May 4.
Joint development of cross-border trade and relevant projects and projects on energy efficiency in Bang-ladesh were discussed, a press release of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources had said at that time.
It also had mentioned that the meeting also discussed India-Bangladesh interconnection link for electrici-ty import, the signing of a proposed agreement to import 500 megawatts of hydroelectricity from Nepal by Indian company GMR to Bangladesh through India, tripartite investment of Bangladesh, India and Bhutan in hydroelectricity project in Bhutan and also the importing of electricity from the project to Bangladesh.