India’s electricity diplomacy efforts on the eastern border with Bangladesh is slated to break new ground, with the crucial 71-km Baharampur-Bheramara transmission link between the electricity grids of the two countries slated for commissioning by the first-week of October, facilitating cross-border electricity transfer of up to 500 mega watt (MW) from India to power-starved Bangladesh.
The link is being seen as a major milestone in strengthening the bilateral relationship and comes at a time when India is desperate to make up for its inability to deliver on two key pacts with Bangladesh, the one on Teesta waters that has been blocked by the Mamata Banerjee administration and the land boundary pact between the two countries. In this light, government officials indicated that there is a sense of urgency in expediting the power link to ensure that the interconnection is up and running well ahead of December, when Bangladesh is expected to go in for general elections. The power link, in some sense, would partially make up for the delays in the other two major commitments from the Indian side, coming at a time when the Sheikh Hasina administration’s progress in turning around Bangladesh’s India policy. The power link would be a step in this direction, officials said.
The 400kv line on both sides of the border has already been energised and HVDC (high voltage direct current) buffer — to ensure that any fluctuations or disturbances of one grid would not affect the other side — will be ready for testing shortly.
A technical team from India is slated to go to Dhaka on September 18-19 for giving final touches to the operating procedure.
Under the arrangement, a total of 500 MW of power is slated to flow from India to Bangladesh, of which 250 MW would be from the Centre’s unallocated quota of power (at rates notified by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission) and the other 250 MW to be contracted by Bangladesh from the Indian electricity market. Trading firm PTC India Ltd is likely to be roped in for wheeling a portion of this power to Bangladesh.
The testing process is