The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 27 , 2014
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Three-point Bangla agenda

Chaudhury: Listing priorities

New Delhi, May 26: Bangladesh is likely to discuss regional connectivity, water sharing and the creation of a regional electricity grid with the new BJP-led government, which was sworn in today.

“We look forward to continuing our good relationship with India and to deepen our co-operation on the economic front,” Bangladesh speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, who attended Narendra Modi’s swearing in ceremony, told The Telegraph.

Chaudhury will hold talks with Modi and his team of ministers and officials tomorrow and follow it up with a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee.

Though the meeting is being described as a “get-to-know” affair, Bangladesh High Commissioner A. Tariq Karim indicated the two countries could focus on improving regional connectivity, including participating in a regional power grid, besides working on better water sharing.

India has lobbied hard to site the headquarters of BIMSTEC — a regional group comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal with a planned free trade area — at Dhaka. It has also started work to build railway and road links to Myanmar and Thailand, which will boost regional connectivity, trade and investment flows. Getting BIMSTEC off the ground is expected to be a common goal, officials said

Official sources in India said the two countries were working on an electricity transmission line between Tripura and Bangladesh through which India will supply 100 megawatt (MW) from ONGC Tripura Power Company plant. This comes on top of a 400kv transmission line from Bengal, which sells up to 500MW to Bangladesh.

Once India and Bangladesh’s grids are connected, the neighbours will be able to trade in power. Moreover, India’s grid links with Bhutan and Nepal will enable trading on a regional basis. Power firms have been demanding a trading exchange for the region, which can supplement long-term deals to buy and evacuate power from one country to another.

Officials said the construction of the Chittagong-Akhaura railway line had improved Bangladesh’s connectivity with the Northeast. It has also improved India’s link with the Northeast through the Chittagong port.