India’s Trinamool Congress MP Jawhar Sircar has sought a clarification from minister for external affairs, Jaishankar, on whether the Narendra Modi government had been “actively involved” in pushing the Adani group’s power project with Bangladesh.
The Rajya Sabha member has written three letters to the foreign minister since December 2022, seeking an “official version” on whether the Prime Minister and the foreign minister have played a role in “pushing Adani’s deal through.”
In his first letter to Jaishankar, dated December 13, 2022, Sircar referred to a news report in The Washington Post (published on 09.12.22) titled “How political will often favours a Coal Billionaire and his dirty fossil fuel.” He wrote to the minister saying, “the report mentions of a $1.7 bn, 1600 mw coal powered plant of the Adani group… and how the Washington Post has accessed and analysed the 163-page PPA. It is said that this mandates that Bangladesh must pay Adani approximately $4550 mn a year in capacity and maintenance charges–regardless of whether it generates any electricity. It further mentions that Bangladesh has 40% more power generation than the peak demand and that it would have to buy Adani’s electricity at more than five times the market price of bulk electricity in the country.”
The TMC MP from West Bengal that shares its borders with Bangladesh, goes on to warn the government saying, “these statements provide a handle to the strong anti-India elements in our neighbouring country. You may like to examine more details mentioned by The Washington Post and rebut the charges, if proper. Our relationship with Bangladesh is extremely sensitive and such adverse reports circulated in the run-up to elections are the stuff of agitations.” Bangladesh is slated to go for general polls by the end of 2023.
Given that, Bangladesh has sought revision of a power purchase agreement it had signed with Adani Power Ltd because of differences over the price of coal, soon after the Hindenburg report saw the Adani company shares tumbling, Sircar’s query assumes significance.
The ministry of external affairs had reacted to Dhaka saying, the deal was between a sovereign government and a private company and did not involve the Indian government. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said the government focuses largely on issues like greater economic integration and connectivity with countries in the neighbourhood.
Adani Power had in 2018 signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) to supply electricity from its upcoming coal-based 1,600MW plant at Godda in Jharkhand.