Bangladesh, Nepal and India are on the final stage of a deal allowing Bangladesh to import hydropower from the Himalayan state, said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen today.
"Three countries agreed upon it. We are close to the final stage. We will buy electricity from Nepal. In winter, we can sell electricity when we have surplus," he said at a press conference on the meetings with Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday.
Bangladesh signed an MoU with Nepal in 2018 to oversee investment, development and trade in hydroelectricity between the two countries. Under this arrangement, Bangladesh will import up to 9,000 MW of hydropower from Nepal by 2040.
Initially, Bangladesh sought to buy hydropower from Nepal's Karnali Hydropower Project through GMR Group, an Indian company. However, as Indian power grid should be used for transmission of power, a trilateral agreement is required, said officials of the Power Division.
An official of the Power Division today told this correspondent that the power ministry has sent a power purchase agreement to the law ministry for vetting. Once done, this has to be endorsed by Nepal. Then, the issue of power grid needs to be settled with India as it has to be transmitted through India.
Bangladesh has also been in favour of investing in Nepal's hydropower sector.
"We were working to identify the projects. We have already visited Nepal several times to identify projects. Due to the pandemic, the work has been slow," the official said.
Both Dhaka and Kathmandu have stressed on extended cooperation hydropower, Minister Momen said.
At the press conference at Foreign Service Academy, Abdul Momen said Nepal and Bangladesh have stressed on trade and connectivity during the meeting. A Preferential Trade Agreement is also at the final stage and is likely to be signed soon.
As an addition to the Protocol of the Nepal-Bangladesh Transit Agreement signed in 1976, a letter of exchange has been signed between the two countries to include Rohanpur-Singhabad Rail Link.
Nepal is also interested in using Chattogram, Mongla and Paira Sea ports. Bangladesh has agreed to work on the modalities for this during the visit of Nepali President.
Nepal has also expressed its interest to use inland waterways of Bangladesh. Besides, Nepal is also interested in using the Saidpur Airport for direct flights with Viratnagar.
"Bangladesh is open to it. We want to facilitate connectivity," Momen said.
He said Bangladesh and India have already agreed to sign passenger protocol under the BBIN. Nepal is expected to give nod to it at the soonest, he added.
For implementing the Motor Vehicle Agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, options of some new routes other than the existing ones are being explored, he said.