Dhaka – Bangladesh has planned to import 9,000 megawatt of electricity from the neighbouring countries to meet its growing power demand by 2041.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina disclosed the plan while addressing a video conference with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Monday as the two leaders inaugurated three projects in power and railway sectors in Bangladesh.
Hasina wanted India to stay by Bangladesh to implement its plan on power sector.
“We plan to import 9,000 megawatt of electricity from our neighbours by 2041 under a regional cooperation framework and I hope that India will be by our side in this endeavour,” she said.
Bangladesh will import 3,000 MW of power as per its short-term plan from India, she said adding that Bangladesh currently imports 660 MW from there.
The Indian prime minister, on the other hand, said with the opening of three projects a golden chapter has been opened up and “from today we became closer and our relationship has been deepened further”.
The Indian premier noted that it was very much needed to maintain neigbourly relations with leaders of neighbouring countries.
The Bangladesh premier was at her Ganobhaban official residence during the conference and Modi was at his office in New Delhi while chief ministers of West Bengal and Tripura Mamata Banerjee and Biplab Kumar Deb joined the conference from their respective state capitals.
Two of the projects opened through the conference were on railway sector while the rest involved the power sector cooperation under which India would export 500 MW additional power through Behrampore-Bheramara interconnection.
The event marked the groundbreaking of Agartala-Akhaura railway link and groundbreaking for rehabilitation of Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh Railways.
The Bangladesh prime minister thanked Modi for supporting Bangladesh in its development pursuit particularly in energy and power sector which she said appeared as a crucial element of bilateral cooperation.
State-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported that taking part in the talks during the video conference Banerjee said West Bengal was ready to export 1000 MW power to Bangladesh if Indian government agrees while Hasina said she expected the Indian premier to give his consent in this regard.
Hasina said her government was building additional 55 power plants with 13,690 MW power generation capacities but “we need more energy to sustain our high economic growth”.
She pointed out that Bangladesh’s power generation capacity now exceeded 20,000 MW.
The Indian premier said with the completion of the project now 1.16 gigawatt of electricity was being supplied to Bangladesh from India and “this quantum jump of reaching gigawatt from megawatt is a symbol of opening golden chapter between the two countries”.
In the recent years, Sheikh Hasina said, the two nations witnessed remarkable progress on cooperation in a host of areas, including trade and commerce, power and energy, connectivity, infrastructure development and people-to-people contact.
“We have maintained our good ties and also ventured into new areas such as blue economy and maritime cooperation, nuclear energy, cyber security, space research and so on,” she said.
Hasina said the two countries experienced enhanced cooperation in railway sector as well “and are now working to re-open pre-1965 railway links for cargo transport between Bangladesh and India”.
Modi appreciated her initiatives for reestablishing pre-1965 connectivity and said “it’s a matter of comfort for me that we have been taking steps one after another”.
The Bangladesh premier expected the two countries to jointly inaugurate soon the groundbreaking ceremonies for construction of the 3rd and 4th dual gauge rail track between Dhaka and Tongi, and doubling of the dual gauge tracks between Tongi and Joydevpur” with Indian line of credit.
Bangladesh-India relationship became a role model for rest of the world as it enabled the two nations to walk through the path of mutual prosperity with firm confidence.
“Mutual trust, respect and goodwill have made our relations matured over the years,” she said also recalling with profound respect the crucial Indian contribution during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War led by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In recent years, Hasina said, land boundary problem was solved with unanimous supports of India’s all parliament members proving that “all people (India) irrespective of party and opinion remain united on any issue of Bangladesh”.
The Indian prime minister during his 2015 Bangladesh visit pledged to provide 500 MW of electricity to Bangladesh while he said today “for this transmission link from West Bengal is being used and I thank the West Bengal CM for her support”.
Railway officials said the rehabilitation of 53 kilometre long Kulaura-Shahbazpur section would be completed at a cost of Tk 678 crore 51 lakh. Of the total amount, Taka 555 crore 99 lakh would be provided by India under its Line of Credit (LoC).
The total mainline will be 44.77 km, while the 7.77 kilometre long loop line will be renovated. The project incorporated the construction of a bridge, passenger platform, platform shed, Customs and Immigration facility, and other infrastructures.
Some 477 crore 82 lakh taka would be spent for implementation of the project and of the amount, The India would provide taka 420 crore 76 lakh, while Bangladesh government would give 57 crore five lakh taka.
The Bangladesh part of Akhaura-Agartala rail line and the rehabilitation of Kulaura-Shahbazpur section would be implemented under India’s one billion dollar LoC.
After commissioning of the railway lines, the officials said, Bangladesh-India rail connectivity would be strengthened and it will also boost economic cooperation between the two neighbours.