BANGLADESH readying contracts — a trilateral deal involving Bangladesh, Russia and India and a bilateral deal between Russia and India which are likely to be signed by December — allowing India to supply non-nuclear components for the Rooppur nuclear power plant, the construction of which began on November 30, and human resources for the plant’s construction comes to be disconcerting. By way of the bilateral deal, India would supply some components — such as turbines, coolants and generators to convert heat energy into electric energy — for the plant while the trilateral deal will enable Russia and Bangladesh to obtain third-party services from India. This has been so planned as India is, officials said, experienced in constructing and regulating nuclear power plants built with Russian VVER technology, generation 3+ Water-Water Energy Reactor, that Bangladesh has adopted. As the Rooppur nuclear power plant, the first unit of which is expected to be commissioned by 2022 and the second by 2023, is an issue of national energy security of Bangladesh, any Indian involvement in it might portend ill as India has not always appeared friendly towards Bangladesh despite its otherwise claims. With India often displaying an unfriendly attitude, its involvement in issues of national security interest of Bangladesh might even be harmful.
New Age has always believed that India, to which Bangladesh has almost always showed more than friendly attitude even at the cost of its own interest, has often been unfriendly to Bangladesh. Any Bangladesh strategy involving its national security and interest coming to involve a state that is a powerful neighbour and often harbours such unfriendly attitude needs to naturally consider such aspects. In September, soon after the latest influx of the Rohingyas from Myanmar into Bangladesh began, creating a furore on the international scene, India professed its full support for Bangladesh’s stance’ over the issue. But India is reported to have said to ‘dissociate’ itself from any UN attempts at sending an international mission to investigate killing, rape and torture of the Rohingyas in Myanmar. In more recent past, India has, on two occasions, abstained from voting on a UN resolution condemning rights violations in Myanmar, particularly against the Rohingyas. India is also reported to have helped Myanmar in the maritime dispute resolution with Bangladesh before 2009. India, in September, also tagged unfriendly conditions to the line of credit it offered, putting Bangladesh in a difficult position as far as the project implementation is concerned.
In what has so far happened, centring on issues that have been named and others, any Indian involvement in affairs of Bangladesh’s national interest might be precarious and even threatening. It is time that the Bangladesh government learnt how to look at any ‘help’, ‘offer’ and ‘involvement’ that India might offer. Bangladesh must not, under the circumstances, proceed with the bilateral and trilateral contracts as they are and try to re-work the arrangement so that expertise, if needed, could be sourced from other countries that have adopted the Russian nuclear power technology.
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