Monday, 5 June, 2023

Govt may allow Indian power corridor

India to let Bangladesh to import power from Nepal, Bhutan in return

Bangladesh is likely to allow India to set up  a 116-200 kilometre power transmission corridor, which will connect India's northeastern states, also known as the seven sisters.

In return, India may allow Bangladesh to import power from Nepal and Bhutan using  its transmission line, which has been under negotiation for years.

An agreement to this effect may be reached during the meeting between the power secretaries of  Bangladesh and India scheduled for tomorrow in Khulna, according to official sources.

Bangladesh Power Division Secretary Md Habibur Rahman will lead the Bangladesh delegation in the discussion on power sector cooperation. Both sides have agreed in principle to extend cooperation in this area.

Bangladesh currently imports 900-940 MW of electricity from India's Baharampur to Bheramara via a 400KV circuit HVDC transmission line. However, approximately 1,400  MW of transmission capacity remains unutilized.

Technical data from the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) indicates that the capacity of the Bharamara-Baharampur transmission line is expected to increase from 2,400 MW to 3,200 MW soon.

Additionally, the 400 KV transmission capacity between Bangladesh's Comilla and India's Surajmaninagar, which can support 640 MW of electricity, is underutilized. Currently, only 160 MW is being supplied through the radial mode of the interconnected grid line.

Considering the unutilized 2,040 MW grid line between Bangladesh and India, the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) proposed last year to finalize the existing grid to supply imported electricity from the GUKUL project in Nepal.

In response, Indian NVVN stated that an agreement for additional power supply to Bangladesh using the Indian grid line could only be signed after finalizing the new transmission corridor between the two countries.

In a previous power secretary-level steering committee meeting, Bangladesh expressed its commitment to support the implementation of the Katihar-Parbatipur-Boronagar 765 KV circuit transmission line. However, the project still faces legal, implemental, operational, and security issues that need to be addressed.

India argued that the Katihar-Parbatipur-Boronagar transmission line is not specific to any hydro project and that no riparian issues are involved. A six-member committee has been formed to examine the legal and operational aspects of the project's implementation.

Bangladesh has raised concerns that the transmission system might be used to evacuate future hydropower from India's northeastern region and has requested that the matter be discussed in the Joint River Commission (JRC) of India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh also proposed signing a data-sharing agreement to obtain necessary information for conducting feasibility studies, hydrological and water modeling studies, and environmental and social impact assessments required for the transmission line's construction.

India suggested resolving implementation issues through discussions between the Indian Power Grid and the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh.              Bangladesh may now allow the use of its transmission line for supplying electricity through grid lines.

An official noted that Bangladesh only has 400 KV grid transmission lines, making the synchronization with the Indian-proposed grid line inside Bangladesh a significant challenge.

By allowing grid connectivity, Bangladesh expects to increase its power supply by an additional 6,000 MW from India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Dhaka has also been advocating for joint venture power projects in Nepal and Bhutan, as well as the supply of electricity using the Indian corridor.