Plan import of 340 MW power from Tripura not sustainable now
The government in a unforeseen move has shifted its earlier plan to import electricity from Tripura to Cumilla region as the policy makers believe power import in the norther region is the need of the hour to replace dependence on fuel powered local supply.
Power Division Secretary Dr Ahmed Kaykaussaid it on Monday after a meeting with Indian delegation at a local hotel. He said over 340 megawatts (MW) electricity was scheduled to be imported from Tripura to add to import of existing 160MW no longer on the table.
The plan has been shelved because of a sufficient supply of locally produced power in the Cumilla region while the norther region lacks enough supply.The power secretary made the announcement at the 17th Bangladesh-India Joint Steering Committee meeting in a city hotel.
Observers watching the development believe Bangladesh decision may have arisen from the Indian attempt to increase its manifold influence in the Cumilla region across the border. It is now bringing pressure for leasing of land from inside Bangladesh to build the runway of Tripura Airport.
Indian Power Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg led his country’s delegation.
UNB adds: Ahmed Kaykaus said, “because we have enough power capacity in Cumilla, we are shifting our focus and evaluating the crisis in the northern area of the country where we face problems in transporting fuel and constructing power plants.”
The Power Division has some oil-based power plants in the northern part of the country. Generating electricity from oil-based plants is very costly.
“One of our technical teams said it will be financially viable for us to import electricity for the northern districts of the country,” he added.
He further said, “After detailed analysis, if we find it financially viable, we will import electricity from the north rather than from the east.”
Replying to a question on electricity export to India, the power secretary said India has already made a guideline where import and export provisions are open for any country.
If Bangladesh wants to export electricity, they can start exporting with the permission of the designated authority.
“If we identify the area and procedure of export, we can export our unused electricity to India, there will be no policy barrier from either parties,” added the power secretary.
Energy experts and environmentalist criticised the electricity export move.
“The electricity export policy and process will pollute our environment, and our forested regions will be destroyed, while India will benefit by power being supplied to them from abroad by their own companies,” said Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports.
The power plants were set up in Bangladesh more in consideration of export to India than of the demand and environmental effects in Bangladesh.
Currently, Bangladesh is importing 1,160MW electricity from two states of India – 1,000MW from Jamsherpur in West Bengal for the Bheramara and Kushtia regions, and another 160MW from Tripura for Cumilla.
In response to a question on the progress of the Rampal thermal power plant project, the power secretary said about 42 percent of the work is complete, and the project is expected to be completed by 2021. He added that both Bangladesh and India are satisfied with the progress of the project.