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BD, Nepal agree coopn in power sector

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Staff reporter
Bangladesh and Nepal at a meeting in Dhaka on Wednesday agreed cooperation in power sector for mutual benefits, though they failed to sign their planned MoU.
Visiting Nepalese Energy Minister Ratha Kumari Gyawali and Bangladesh’ s State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid led their respective sides to the meeting.
Briefing reporters at Sonargaon Hotel after the meeting, Nasrul Hamid said, “We’ve just opened the door of cooperation. It’ll take 15 years to see anything substantial in the power sector like launching a joint venture project and Bangladesh’s electricity import from Nepal.”
Ratha Kumari Gyawali said: “We’ve agreed to put our joint efforts in identifying and developing joint venture power projects for mutual benefits.”
However, the two countries were supposed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on various issues on cooperation in power sector that include Bangladesh’s future investment in hydro power projects in Nepal and electricity import from the Himalayan nation.
The MoU could not be signed due to the Nepalese side’s reported reluctance.
Clarifying it, Nasrul Hamid said the proposed MoU was drafted by both sides, but it needs further scrutiny by the Nepalese side as there is lot of things that need to be matched with Nepalese constitution.
“After discussions, we’ve decided to send a draft copy of the proposed MoU to Nepal for study by the ministry concerned. They (Nepal) have requested us to sign the MoU in December after the Saarc summit,” said the state minister.
Bangladesh and Nepal have long been experiencing nagging power crisis. Recently, power supply situation has improved in Bangladesh, but Nepal has to face 10-12 hours of load shedding a day despite huge hydro potentials.
The Nepalese Energy Minister said both sides discussed the growing demand of electricity for both the nations in the years to come and agreed to put in joint efforts for mutual benefits.
Gyawali said both sides also agreed to use the hydropower potentials for mutual benefits of the Saarc region under regional framework. In this regard, Nepal welcomes tripartite efforts involving India, Bangladesh and Nepal for sub-regional approach for power sector development.
She also said a bilateral agreement will be signed between Bangladesh and Nepal in December this year.
Responding to a question, Gyawali said Nepal is ready to sign a power trade agreement with India soon and then with Bangladesh.
Nasrul Hamid said Nepal has made it clear that it has no objection if Bangladesh moves to buy electricity from an Indian private power plant of GMR company being set up in Nepal.
“Bangladesh intends to buy electricity from GMR and Nepal government has no objection in this case as the plant is a private one,” he added.
Nasrul Hamid said Bangladesh has offered Nepal to conduct joint hydrocarbon exploration in the Himalayan nation as Bangladesh has good experience in the exploration side.
Nepal has said they would look into the issue seriously and discuss with their ministry concerned and then inform Bangladesh.
He also mentioned that Nepal has appreciated Bangladesh’s rural electrification project and expressed keen interest to share Bangladeshi experience in electrification of rural areas in the Himalayan nation.
Nepalese Ambassador in Dhaka Hari Kumar Shrestha and Bangladeshi Power Secretary Monwar Islam were also present during the press briefing.
Senior officials of both Nepal and Bangladesh took part in the bilateral meeting.