April 21: India's Energy Minister RK Singh has announced that India will buy all the electricity generated from Nepal's hydropower projects.
Singh made such announcement on Wednesday while addressing a joint energy meeting of the countries affiliated to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
So far, India has agreed to purchase 364 MW of electricity from Nepal.
According to Madhu Prasad Bhetuwal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, India has also announced to buy electricity generated from Bhutan's hydropower projects.
"The announcement by the Indian energy minister has given us further impetus. If that really happens, it will be a great help to Nepal's hydropower development,” said Bhetuwal.
BIMSTEC includes Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
The meeting also decided to facilitate electricity trade between BIMSTEC member countries, connect each other's transmission systems (grid) and establish an energy trade centre. A 12-point joint statement was issued after the meeting.
In the meeting, it was agreed to formulate necessary policy and tariff system for electricity trade between BIMSTEC countries. The meeting also decided to form a committee with experts to plan how to trade electricity between BIMSTEC countries.
It was agreed to set up a 'BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Coordination Committee' to connect the grids of BIMSTEC countries. With the support of the Asian Development Bank, the committee will draw up a master plan for grid interconnection.
Member countries have agreed to establish BIMSTEC Energy Center. The centre will conduct research on energy, exchange experiences and co-operate among member countries.
The meeting also decided to make an action plan, prepare the structure and prepare the necessary funds for the operation of the trade centre. It has been said that the centre will be brought into operation in time by making an appropriate action plan, roadmap, structure and working methodology.
A meeting of BIMSTEC in 2011 had agreed to set up an energy centre. However, it was not implemented. Now the BIMSTEC countries are committed to implementing it.
"Everyone has expressed their commitment to implement it. Let's hope it is implemented," said Bhetwal.
Addressing the meeting, Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal said that the natural resources of BIMSTEC countries should be used as an alternative to energy generated from fossil fuel. “Energy, environment and economy are important sectors for sustainable development. However, we are constantly using fuels that affect the environment. This tendency to create tension in our environment must end now,” she said.
In addition, there is a need to further expand economic cooperation among BIMSTEC countries for energy development, she added.
Energy Secretary Devendra Karki said that moving ahead with the process of establishing the BIMSTEC Energy Center was a positive aspect. He said that this would help in the development of the energy sector of BIMSTEC countries.
"It is expected to be a great help in exchanging information and best practices on energy efficiency and non-conventional energy sources," he said.
He also said that Nepal was making progress in the energy sector. "We have made great strides in providing clean and reliable energy to our people. As a result, 93 per cent of our population has access to electricity,” he said.