Thursday, January 27, 2011

Burma: Bangladesh set to buy hydropower from Burma

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Dhaka plans to buy hydropower from Burma

Chittagong, Bangladesh:
Dhaka has opened a dialogue with a Burmese company to buy hydropower from Burma’s Arakan State, said Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni while speaking at a press conference in Dhaka on January 25.

“Discussion is going on, and I myself had talks with the company officials about importing electricity,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said at the press conference. “A private firm has been awarded contracts to set up two hydropower projects.”

“The two hydropower projects, one with the capacity of an 80-megawatt plant, will start production in 2015, and another 800-megawatt project will be operative in 2018.”

“I met with the company officials on January 23 in Rangoon during my visit there to attend the 13th ministerial meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation [BIMSTEC] and the company agreed to sell hydropower upon completion of the projects.”

She mentioned that import of electricity from Burma would require two gridlines on either side of the border.

“The pricing of the electricity is yet to be finalized.”

Shwe Taung Development Company, a Burmese company, has already linked up with a Chinese firm to build the power plants with plans to export the output to Bangladesh. It has already got leases of land in Arakan State to set up the power plants.

“Whenever officials from Burma and Bangladesh meet at state visits or other occasions, Bangladesh always raises the idea of buying hydropower or gas from Burma. The Burmese authorities in the past have agreed to the conditions of Bangladesh’s proposals, but then the authorities never implement the plans following the meetings,” said a politician from Maungdaw.

“In the past, Bangladesh financed the construction of a road to connect the border point of Gondom after agreement and a visit from former Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, but now the road is damaged and no used for high way.”

A local MP on condition of anonymity said, “The present government cannot able to supply the electricity to even in Rangoon city, how the government considers exporting hydropower to Bangladesh? In Arakan State, there is no electricity in rural areas except towns. But in towns, the current is supplied only 2 to 3 hours per day and frequently load shedding.”

“After having sufficiency of electricity in own country, exporting of hydropower to foreign country be considered,” said a local businessman from Maungdaw.

A youth from Buthidaung said, “After fulfilling our own stomachs, then we will consider to other bellies.”