Private sector partnership in power with India

India and Bangladesh have agreed to open ways for private sector partnership to swap electricity alongside existing government-level cooperation, officials said on Friday as power secretaries of the two countries concluded a two-day meeting in Dhaka.

“We are already engaged in the government level (cooperation in bd-indiapowers sector) and now the two countries agreed to allow private sector partnership in this sector,” a Bangladeshi energy ministry spokesman said.

His comments came as the Joint Steering Committee on the Power Sector led by Power Secretary P K Sinha and his Bangladeshi counterpart Monowar Islam concluded its ninth meeting and second in six months late on Thursday.

“Private-private cooperation is just like we have the public-public (involving two countries’ state-owned entities) cooperation. That could be either in Bangladesh or in India,” Sinha earlier said in brief comments emerging from the steering committee meeting with Islam late on Thursday.

Officials familiar with the meeting said that the proposal of the private sector partnership was floated by the Indian side as several Indian companies including Reliance previously expressed interest for investment in power in Bangladesh.

“We have discussed about the Indian companies interests to invest in our power sector alongside the issues of importing power from Nepal and Bhutan through India,” Islam said. Sinha supplemented him saying India would examine the required regulatory measures in enabling Bangladesh to import hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan.

An official statement issued after the meeting said the meeting reviewed the progress on Bangladesh’s move for import of additional 600 MW power from India, of which 100 MW would come from Tripura’s Palatana power project starting next December while the the remaining 500 MW was expected to reach from December, 2017.

It said the meeting reviewed and discussed the progress of installation of a high capacity multi-terminal HVDC bi-pole transmission line for inter-connection between India’s north and north-eastern region and the proposed 1,320 MW coal-fired Rampal power plant near Sundarbans in Bangladesh.

The steering committee meeting came even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is soon expected to go on his maiden visit to Bangladesh after the settlement of the long-pending Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) while officials said several more top bureaucrats of different ministries of India were likely to visit Dhaka to discuss issues of bilateral cooperation ahead of Modi’s tour.