India offers Bangladesh to buy 1,000 MW power

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Dhaka, Nov 1 (UNI) India has offered Bangladesh to buy electricity of around 1,000 megawatt as New Delhi has started a mega-plan to produce 30,000 MW in next 10 years in Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

''We can have an agreement to export 1,000 MW power,'' Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh told a press conference this evening.

Mr Ramesh who came to attend an international business conference sponsored by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, made the offer for the power sector cooperation during separate meetings with Commerce Advisor Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman and Special Assistant to the Chief Advisor for Energy and Power earlier in the day.

He also visited a power plant in Siddirganj, about 30 km from here.

Replying to a question, he said the country right now has an under construction project in Tripura to generate 750 MW while Indian companies have got permission to install power plants in Nepal to generate 1,400 MW power to import back to India.

Similarly, the Minister said, India is now pursuing a plan to generate a total of 30,000 MW power in next 10 years in the countries surrounding Bangladesh like Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

He said the power sector cooperation could take place through a South Asian power grid, but the real issue would be how that grid could be reached. A bilateral approach could take place faster, he added.

''It will be a competitive price, no profiteering,'' he told a correspondent.

Earlier on the day, the Commerce Advisor told reporters after meeting with Mr Ramesh that India proposed Bangladesh to be their partner in constructing power projects with 10-15 per cent share in their under construction Tripura power plant.

The Minister also offered Bangladesh to buy electricity from Tripura power plant as demand for power in the Indian state was only 250 MW.

He also proposed to form a joint working group in this regard. Dr Zillur termed it a very interesting proposal.

He said India has now permitted Bangladesh investment in India as he would be in Agartala next moth to launch the first Bangladeshi financed project of food processing there.

Mr Ramesh said Indian exports to Bangladesh increased three times during last seven years to USD 3.3 billion while Bangladesh's exports to India increased seven times to USD 350 million, though the figures reflected huge surplus in favour of India.

''We'll have to address the issue. The only way to reduce the gap is big Indian investment to Bangladesh with buyback arrangement,'' he said, adding that Indian investors other than Tata were waiting to come and invest in Bangladesh's Pharmaceuticals, steel and IT sectors.

''If we pursue from both the sides, Indian investors would come to Bangladesh,'' he said, adding that Tata did not move forward for some reasons. ''I am confident that this is a temporary divorce,'' he hoped.

Replying to a question, the Minister said, ''I am not here to press for transit.'' He said India was looking at multi-modal connectivity.

Referring to an Indian study, he said Bangladesh could earn as high as USD 1.2 billion annually by allowing trans-shipment only through two routes Kolkata-Dhaka-Guwahati and Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala.

''People who are worried about trade deficit could consider the corridors,'' he added.

Asked about the lack of trust and confidence, he said ''Unfortunately, we are the prisoners of history and conspiracy theory. We've to be pragmatic.'' He added, ''In South Asia we talk and in East Asia, they do.'' UNI XC RJ RAI2240

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