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Tuesday, October 27, 2015, Kartik 12, 1422 BS, Muharram 13, 1437 Hijri

Four deals with Bhutan likely
Minister arrives today, accord on power import high on agenda
Published :Tuesday, 27 October, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 13
Shahnaj Begum
The Finance and Power Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan Namgay Dorji is expected to arrive in Dhaka today (Tuesday) to negotiate and sign three to four deals and Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh.
"We are expecting that we would be able to sign three deals with our counterpart, these are: importing hydro-electricity from Bhutan through India, road connectivity, water resources management and tourism," a senior official of the Foreign Ministry told the Daily Observer on Monday.
Experts said that Indian cooperation was a must for importing electricity and boulders from Bhutan and stressed the need for a tripartite meeting involving Bangladesh, India and Bhutan as both the countries need Indian support to materialise the whole plan.
However, Prime Minister's International Affairs Advisor Gowher Rizvi had talked to the Bhutanese and Indian sides in this regard and is expecting a tripartite meeting soon, according to the Foreign Ministry.
"This meeting is crucial in enhancing connectivity in South Asia for mutual benefits of the peoples," the Foreign Ministry official said.
Namgay Dorji will also meet with the President, Prime Minister, Ministry of Tourism, Board of Investment, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
 "Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sat with the Indian High Commissioner on Sunday to discuss the issue, however, the Indian government had already given its final nod in this regard," a senior official of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) told this correspondent.
Thimphu has sought Delhi's cooperation in easing movement of trucks through India to expand bilateral trade and economic relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Earlier, the Bhutanese Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay, expressed eagerness to export electricity and boulders that will be used for the construction of the Padma bridge.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed earlier told the reporters that Bhutanese trucks could now enter Bangladesh through India for export and import. "This time we need Indian support so that Bangladeshi trucks can also directly go to Bhutan through India," the official said.
According to the Power Division, the Foreign Minister of Bhutan will visit Bheramara to see the 400KV grid sub-station. Through this station Bangladesh is importing more than 500 MW of electricity from India every day.
Bangladesh and Bhutan had earlier tried to venture into a proper mutual sharing of water resources. It is evident that Bhutan is now looking out for its market for exporting electricity after it has started its venture in hydro-power through collaboration with India.
It was only recently that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation of India entered into an agreement with Bhutan to extend engineering and design consultancy services for the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project of Bhutan. India is also behind building the Sankosh river hydro-power complex in Bhutan, which is going to be one of the five tallest dams in the world with 4,000 MW capacities. With such a huge volume of hydro- power generation, Bhutan would look forward to exporting electricity to neighbouring India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
In line with this initiative, the government proposed to India to increase capacity of the Indo-Bangla power grid line to 1,000MW from 500MW now for importing electricity from Arunachal Pradesh of India, officials concerned said.
Meanwhile, IFC is also interested to make available sub-national financing to the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) on a corporate finance basis for the proposed cross-border connectivity projects.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said that they discussed the issue with the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka.
"Indian side has okayed the proposal," a senior official of the ministry said.
"India has joint-venture connectivity with Bhutan for facilitating electricity import. Bangladesh government in a proposal to the Indian side had earlier showed interests to invest in a project at Arunachal Pradesh in India" Nasrul Hamid said, adding: "The entire gamut relating to import of electricity from Bhutan via India will come up for discussion with the Bhutanese minister." 
The bilateral meeting will also emphasize on Bhutan's active participation in sub-regional cooperation in water resources management.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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