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Deals on power likely during PM’s Delhi visit

WT24 Desk

A number of deals on cooperation in the power sector are likely to be signed with India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s New Delhi visit on April 7-10, Agencies report.

Of the deals, some will be on import of additional 60 MW power from Indian state-owned power project in Tripura, import of 1600 MW power from Indian Adani Group’s power plant, use of Indian territory to import electricity from Bhutan and also from an Indian company which set up power plant in Nepal, said officials at the Power Ministry.

They, however, said all the deals are planned to be signed in the form of memorandum of understanding (MoU), which are considered to be very initial deals.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit India at the invitation of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi who visited Dhaka in June, 2015.

Diplomatic sources expect a good number of deals will be inked between the two neighbouring nations with some of them on cooperation in the power sector.

During Narendra Modi’s Dhaka visit, the government signed MoUs with two Indian companies to invest about $5.5 billion in Bangladesh. Of these, Adani Group offered to build a 1,600MW ultra supercritical coal-based power plant either in Maheshkhali island or another suitable location in Bangladesh.

In the other deal, Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Group offered to set up 3,000MW LNG-based power station and a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) in Chittagong.

But later both the Indian business conglomerates brought huge changes to their investment plans and entered into negotiations separately with the government. Negotiations still continued.

As per the changed plan, Adani will now set up a 1600 MW power plant in Jharkhand state of India and export electricity to Bangladesh while Reliance will set up a 750 MW LNG-based power plant in Dhaka and an FSRU in Chittagong.

A deputy secretary at the Power Division said the negotiations with both the groups entered the last stage. “But until both sides make any written agreement, there should not be any conclusion on the progress,” said the Power Division official preferring anonymity as the issue is “very sensitive”.

On Bangladesh’s interest to import 60 MW additional power from Tripura state, the both sides have made substantial progress and a deal is expected in this regard during the PM’s New Delhi visit, said another official. Bangladesh is currently importing 100 MW power from the Indian state.

He said there might be another agreement on Bangladesh’s move to set up a power plant in Bhutan and bring electricity from that plant to Bangladesh through Indian territory.

“Bangladesh and Bhutan have already agreed on a tripartite arrangement and sent the documents to India for its consent. Now the issue remains pending with New Delhi,” said Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain.

He also said India has already given its primary consent to Bangladesh’s import of electricity from Indian company’s power plant in Nepal.

Indian company GMR Group has been setting up two power plants – a one 600 MW and another 900 MW in Nepal and had discussions with Bangladesh to sell the electricity. But that requires Indian government’s approval.

Hossain noted that Bangladesh will import electricity from GMR through its appointed Indian company Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited (NVVN), which is now engaged in the import of power from West Bengal state.

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