Nepal and Bangladesh Push for Dedicated Power Grid, India’s Response Awaited

Last Updated on March 10, 2024 4:46 am

As Nepal and Bangladesh explore avenues for enhanced power trade, both countries are advocating for the establishment of a dedicated transmission line via India. The move, however, raises questions about India’s willingness to comply, given its strategic stance on electricity as a vital commodity.

Bangladesh’s State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, emphasized the necessity of a dedicated transmission line between Nepal and Bangladesh, passing through Indian territory. During a recent meeting with Indian High Commissioner Pranay Verma, Hamid suggested that such a line would not only boost power trade but also benefit India.

Despite the ongoing negotiations for the export of 40MW of power from Nepal to Bangladesh via India’s existing transmission infrastructure, both nations express the desire for a more extensive collaboration. The proposed dedicated transmission line would facilitate larger-scale power exchange, requiring India’s involvement due to its geographical positioning between Nepal and Bangladesh.

However, India’s historical approach to electricity as a strategic asset prompts skepticism among Nepali officials and experts. India has traditionally exercised project-wise approval, particularly when Chinese or Pakistani involvement is detected, impacting power imports from neighboring countries.

Recent proposals by Nepal to build new cross-border transmission lines faced reluctance from India, which suggested dividing construction responsibilities between the two nations. This reluctance signals India’s preference for maintaining control over transmission lines on its territory.

The proposed dedicated transmission line routes, identified by a joint technical team from Nepal and Bangladesh, include Anarmari (Nepal) to Panchagarh (Bangladesh) and Anarmari (Nepal) to Thakurgaon (Bangladesh), both passing through Indian territory. The length of the routes is 49km and 83km, respectively.

Despite the potential benefits of a dedicated transmission line for large-scale power export to Bangladesh, concerns persist over India’s flexibility in relinquishing control. Nepal and Bangladesh are eagerly awaiting a response from India, contemplating the need for a trilateral mechanism to address the matter comprehensively.

As Nepal aims to export 15,000MW of power by 2035, including 5,000MW to Bangladesh, the establishment of a dedicated transmission line becomes crucial for achieving these ambitious targets. The power dynamics in the region remain uncertain as diplomatic negotiations and strategic considerations play a significant role in shaping the future of cross-border power trade.

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