No progress in import of Myanmar electricity

Despite Bangladesh’s effort to import electricity from neighbouring Myanmar, there is no virtual progress in this regard in last two years. According to Power Ministry sources, a technical team from Bangladesh visited Myanmar in 2010 and discussed the potential power trade between the two neighbours.
The then military regime of Myanmar assured the Bangladesh delegation of exporting about 500 MW of electricity from their future hydro power projects.
Following the visit, feasibility study was conducted to asses the potentials of setting up hydropower plants in Myanmar and import of electricity by Bangladesh.
Later, Bangladesh offered to send another delegation to Myanmar in early 2011 to discuss a possible deal to import electricity. But Myanmar did not respond.
Admitting the stalled situation in Bangladesh move to import electricity from Myanmar, Prime Minister’s Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said that Bangladesh has been continuing its parley in the diplomatic channel with the neighbour.
“They (Myanmar) are still silent. But we’re hopeful of a progress in near future,” he told UNB.
Bangladesh launched a simultaneous move to import electricity from all its close neighbours including India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar in 2009.
But so far, Dhaka achieved success in signing a deal with India to import 250 MW of electricity from India’s state-owned power plants.
Indian authorities also agreed to allow Bangladesh to import another 250 MW of electricity from their private power plant operators.
The Power Ministry officials here are hopeful of getting the first 250 MW of power by July next. But, there is no significant progress in the import of power from private operators.
In addition, Bangladesh has been pursuing India to allow it to import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan. But no visible progress is in sight in this regard yet.
The huge hydropower potential in Myanmar has prompted Bangladesh to look to its eastern neighbour. The Myanmar authority has planned to set up two hydropower plants having total capacity of 575 MW in Rakhaine state, which is very close to Bangladesh border.
According to energy expert and former special assistant to Chief Advisor of the caretaker government Dr M Tamim, hydropower needs huge investment of billion dollars. Possibly, Myanmar does not have that kind of available fund that made it reluctant or less interested in such investment.
But, he said, if Bangladesh could arrange required fund for investment in hydropower plant projects and guarantee to purchase electricity for long term tenure, then Myanmar could be interested in such trans-border electricity deal.
Dr Tamim suggested the government to simultaneously pursue international donors, consortium of investors and Myanmar to convince them about such a potential power trade between the two neighbours. UNB

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