Tuesday, January 31, 2012

3,000mw Power Plant : Nepal offers partnership

Seeks transit from Mongla Port.

Nepal yesterday proposed setting up a 3,000-megawatt power plant in a joint venture with Bangladesh and also sought transit from Mongla port to Banglabandha land port in Panchagarh district. 

Nepalese Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun made the proposal at a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the latter's secretariat office. 

After the meeting, Muhith told reporters that Nepal wanted to export power to Bangladesh, but for that, Dhaka would need to be an equity partner in a joint-venture plant in the Himalayan country. 

Nepal has huge resources for hydropower, but its potentials remain untapped for lack of investment, Muhith observed.

The Bangladesh government has also been thinking of setting up joint-venture power plants in Bhutan. 

Apart from power projects, yesterday's meeting focused on the issue of transit to India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The finance minister said Kathmandu had requested Dhaka to allow its trucks to ply between Banglabandha and Mongla. Currently, trucks from Nepal are allowed to travel up to 200 kilometres inside Bangladesh.

Last month, a core committee formed to make recommendations on the transit issue submitted its report to the commerce ministry. The three neighbouring countries to be given the facility will be charged a flat-rate transit fee on the basis of recommendations made in the report, Muhith said.

He added that some concessions might be offered to low-income countries.

The core committee's report will be sent to the three countries and transit fees and other issues will be settled through discussions with them.

Muhith also said the tenure of a water transit protocol signed with India would expire in March and Bangladesh would try to finalise the transit fees before that. Otherwise, the protocol's tenure will be extended as per the previous terms. 

However, the transit fees that Bangladesh charges India now will be increased.

Muhith said there was no bar to giving India transit through Ashuganj but infrastructure should be improved for that. 

The Nepalese finance minister came to Dhaka on January 29 to attend the Saarc finance ministers' meeting.