Thimphu, Bhutan (BBN)-A trilateral cooperation among Bhutan, Bangladesh and India that will enable Bangladesh to invest in the Bhutanese power sector to re-import the electricity could soon be a reality.
A draft memorandum of understanding on the trilateral collaboration is being circulated among the three friendly countries, reports the Kuensel.
Bangladesh’s foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, who was on a visit to the country last week, told Kuensel that his country will invest in the 1,125MW Dorjilung hydropower project in Lhuentse.
He said India has agreed to Bangladesh’s proposal to invest in the project and provide transit for transmission of electricity from Bhutan.
He had held talks with Indian officials on the project days before coming to Bhutan, in Dhaka.
The trilateral cooperation will provide an opportunity for both the countries to diversify their energy markets.
Bhutan is dependent on the Indian market for sale of its surplus power, as does Bangladesh for electricity import.
Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji said the detailed project report (DPR) is almost complete. Lyonpo said the project is estimated to cost about Nu 83 billion (B) at the November 2015 price.
The Sheikh Hasina government of Bangladesh recently approved USD 1B for the project.
The foreign minister said the money will be equity investment in the project, and Bangladesh will get a proportionate share of the production from the project.
“We have been dreaming of importing power from Bhutan for a long time,” Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said. The dream, he said, will be an “absolute reality very soon … I have no doubt about it.”
The fact that demand for power in both Bangladesh and India will keep increasing, he said presents a big economic opportunity for Bhutan.
Bangladesh currently buys 500MW from India.
Implementation of this project will not only uplift the relation between Bhutan and Bangladesh but also the trilateral relation.
“We are poised to take a big leap in the trilateral cooperation,” the foreign minister said.
In addition to Bangladesh’s share of production from the project, the foreign minister said his country is keen on importing either from the same project or other projects. That will be subject to negotiation among the three countries.
Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh is poised to become a middle-income country by 2018 and that his country needs to import power from Bhutan to meet the growing energy demand.
Bangladesh recently announced 100 special economic zones for industrializsation.
Within Bangladesh, power plants to generate 1000MW have been planned.
The dam will be located about seven kilometres downstream of Autsho at a place called Rewan.
It will be about 135m high from the deepest foundation.
A head-race tunnel of 11m diameter will carry the water to the powerhouse at the confluence of the Kurichhu and Shongarchhu.
In 2014, member states of SAARC signed a framework agreement for energy cooperation with the declared objective of creating a regional energy market and enhancement of cross-border electricity trade.