Power demand of Bangladesh can be a better bargaining point for India to get few important and old cross border issues resolved out. BJP, the first constituent of ruling NDA Government in India is keen on getting the issues squared up fast.
Bangladesh has taken up a plan to import 3,500 MW of electricity from SAARC countries by 2030 under its power sector master plan. With its geographical boundary surrounding Bengaldesh, India is best suited one in SAARC to export power to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh now imports 500MW from India. A process of further 600MW trading is underway. In addition, Nepal is ready to ink power trade deal with Bangladesh. According to Nepalese Energy Minister R. K. Gyawali, Bangladesh has shown interest in investing in hydropower projects in Nepal and purchase power from the country.
With only less than 100MW production against a potential of 83,000MW hydro-power Nepal is also keen on utilizing its hidden potential for its own commercial uplift. On this, Bangladesh, with its severe power shortage, can be a high value power trade paretner for Nepal
But, “Being physically detached from Nepal, Bangladesh needs to have transmission line through Indian land to have Nepal’s power in own soil. Thus, to have power from India or Nepal both, Bangladesh needs clear nod from India,” said a senior official from Power Grid Corporation Ltd.
There lie the bargain points. BJP is likely to pull up few old unresolved issues before giving this nod. The first item in the list is Tetulia Corridoor. A proposed strip of land for 6 km in northern West Bengal that can connect two places of Indian mainland shortening the travel for all North east region bound traffic for 60 km. Despite many persuasions from Indian side, Bangladesh is yet to allow that.
The next is less than 40 km wide Indian mainland known as ‘Chicken neck’ at north Dinajpore district in West Bengal that has Nepal in North West and Bangladesh in its south east. “India may ask Bangladesh to spare certain area of land for the Chickens neck to be widened. That can improve road and rail connectivity through the area.
Entire north east region and Sino Indian border, those deserve high security arrangements, are connected to rest part of country through this corridor only. These issues are too important. We want early, reasonable and logical resolution of these to maintain best possible relationship with Bangladesh,” said Mr. Rahul Sinha, BJP West Bengal State President.
Courtesy- Economics Times