A two-day meeting of the joint steering committee of Bangladesh and Nepal was set to begin in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu today.
A seven-member high-powered Bangladesh delegation, headed by power secretary Ahmad Kaikaus, had already left Dhaka for Nepal to join the maiden committee meeting.
According to officials at the power ministry, the meeting will mainly focus on Bangladesh’s investment in hydropower projects in Nepal and import of electricity from the Himalayan nation through the Indian territory.
They said Dhaka had already signed a memorandum of understanding with Kathmandu for cooperation in the development of the power and energy sectors.
Bangladesh also signed a preliminary contract with an Indian company, GMR Energy, to import electricity from its power project in Nepal.
Bangladesh was yet to receive India’s consent to use its territory to import electricity from a third country.
Nepalese daily Kathmandu Post reported that officials of the energy ministries of Nepal and Bangladesh would explore the possibility of energy trade and Bangladeshi investment in Nepal’s hydropower sector during their first meeting.
Meetings of the joint steering committee, co-led by the energy secretaries of Nepal and Bangladesh, and the joint working group, co-led by the joint secretaries, will be held in Kathmandu in December 3-4.
According to the Nepalese energy ministry, the major issues on the agenda included export of electricity to Bangladesh using Indian power lines and attracting Bangladeshi investment in Nepal’s hydropower sector.
Nepal was expected to produce surplus electricity in a few years and ministry officials and the Nepal Electricity Authority were scouting for markets for the extra energy in Bangladesh.
‘We’ll try to figure out ways to export the surplus electricity from Nepal using Indian transmission lines,’ said Gokarna Panta, under-secretary at the ministry.
The NEA planned to export electricity generated by several hydropower projects in the eastern region to Bangladesh using India’s transmission infrastructure.
The state-owned power utility of Nepal was expected to sign separate memorandums of understanding with Indian and Bangladeshi authorities to make this happen.
Energy-hungry Bangladesh promised to be a lucrative market for hydroelectricity produced in Nepal.
It planned to import electricity from neighbouring countries to sustain the high economic growth rate that had been achieved in the last few years.
The seasonal complementarities of demand and supply of electricity that existed in Nepal and Bangladesh would make electricity export highly viable, according to the NEA.
Bangladesh required massive amounts of electricity in the summer when power generation reached its peak in Nepal.
The Nepal-Bangladesh meeting will also discuss the possibility of developing two hydropower projects with a total installed capacity of 1,600 megawatts with Bangladeshi investment.
‘Bangladesh was interested in financing the 1,110 MW Sunkoshi II and 536 MW Sunkoshi III located on the River Sunkoshi in central Nepal,’ said Pant.
Nepali officials participating in the meeting will also take stock of the progress made by Bangladesh in its plan to import electricity generated by the 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project being developed with Indian funding.
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