Agartala, Nov 26 (IANS) In yet another sign of warming ties and growing cooperation, India will start supplying 100 MW of electricity to power-starved Bangladesh from December 16, the day observed as Vijay Diwas in both the countries. That was the day Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign nation after the surrender of 95,000 Pakistani troops at the end of the 1971 Liberation War in what was then East Pakistan.
“Arrangements are being readied to supply 100 MW of power to Bangladesh from December 16 to keep in mind the celebration of Vijay Diwas,” Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limiited (TSECL) chairman Shyamal Roy told IANS.
“The power ministry has called a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday to finalise the tariff,” he added.
TSECL Deputy General Managar Mahananda Debbarma, who along with Tripura’s Principal Secretary (Power) S.K.Rakesh and other senior officials would attend the New Delhi meeting, said this would be the second on the issue.
“The first three-day (October 26-28) meet was held in New Delhi where Indian and Bangladesh officials finalised all other nitty-gritties except the tariff,” Debbarma told IANS.
“The power ministry’s director (Transmission), Ghanshyam Prasad, would preside over the meeting, which would also be attended by senior officials of the external affairs ministry, the Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) and the Bangladesh government,” he added.
Indian and Bangladeshi officials conducted a joint inspection last week and earlier in the month to verify the progress of the 47-km power transmission line from western Tripura to southern Comilla in eastern Bangladesh.
Engineers of the Indian government-owned PGCIL are working round-the-clock to complete the line before December 16.
“The PGCIL would initially invest Rs.250 crore ($37 million) to set up the 400 kv double circuit line and the Bangladesh government would subsequently reimburse the expenditure,” Debbarma added.
“Eighteen km of the transmission line would be in Indian territory and the remaining 29 km in the Bangladesh portion. Altogether 143 transmission towers (67 in India and 76 in Bangladesh) would be set up,” the official added.
The power will help Bangladesh to end the energy crisis in the eastern part of the country.
The 100 MW power will be in addition to the 500 MW Bangladesh already receives from West Bengal and a like amount is also on the cards from the state, as the two neighbours enter a new phase of bilateral cooperation for regional benefit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the power supply from Tripura with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during his Dhaka visit on June 6-7.
Modi had declared that India would eventually enhance the supply of power to Bangladesh from the existing 500 MW to 1,100 MW.
Tripura Power Minister Manik Dey, who recently held a meeting with PGCIL engineers, told IANS: “I have asked the PGCIL officials to expedite the work on transmission lines to fulfill our promise to Bangladesh to supply 100 MW of power.”
“While erecting new transmission lines from (western Tripura’s) Surjyamaninagar power grid to the Comilla power grid, human habitations, forests and vital installations have been avoided,” Dey added.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who initiated a few years ago the move to supply 100 MW of power to Bangladesh, had earlier said that after a new 101 MW gas-based power project at Monarchak (10 km from the Bangladesh border) is completed, at least 200 MW of power would be surplus in Tripura.
The central government-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has commissioned its biggest 726 MW commercial power project at Palatana, 60 km from Agartala, while the state-run North East Electric Power Corporation is setting up the 101 MW Monarchak project.
The gas-based Palatana plant, which supplies power to seven of the eight northeastern states, is a hallmark of the cooperation between India and Bangladesh, which ensured the smooth passage of heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana through its territory by road and waterways from Haldia port in West Bengal.
India had begun supplying 500 MW of power to Bangladesh in 2013 after the government-run Bangladesh Power Development Board and India’s NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd (NVVN), a subsidiary of NTPC, signed a deal on Feb 28, 2012, following an agreement signed during Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in January 2010.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)