Photo Credit: Kezang Dechen

Trilateral hydro project still in the works

During the Meet the Press on Friday, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) minister, Lyonpo Leki Dorji highlighted said that while the trilateral Dorji Lung project is still being discussed between Bangladesh, Bhutan and India the government’s priorities are to complete and commission the ongoing five Hydropower projects.

The construction of five projects that Government has in pipe line will add 3,658 MW.

Lyonpo said the Ministry of Power, Government of India had issued the Guideline on Cross Border Trade of Electricity (CBTE) on December 6, 2016. Their stated objectives were to facilitate cross border trading of electricity between India and the neighboring countries by promoting transparency, consistency and predictability in regulatory approaches across jurisdictions and to minimize the perception of regulatory risks.

The Ministry formally received correspondence from the Government of India (GoI) seeking its views and comments on the CBTE through the Embassy of India, Thimphu.

According to Lyonpo Leki Dorji, the ministry shared its concerns regarding the provisions of the CBTE guideline that would impact Bhutan considering the fact that Bhutan is the only net exporter of electricity at present. “The GoI has taken our concerns and views positively and we have been reassured that the GoI would address our concerns, bearing in mind the special relations between two countries and the importance of hydropower cooperation,” said Lyonpo.

The GoI through a review team spearheaded by Power Secretary, Ministry of Power is currently working on revising the guidelines to address Bhutan’s concerns.

Likewise, regarding the proposed development of hydropower through a trilateral cooperation, the talks are still under consideration by three countries, namely Bangladesh, India and Bhutan. “To this effect, the draft MoU that provides broad framework for trilateral cooperation stands shared amongst the three countries and are still being reviewed by respective authorities in finalizing the same.”

According to the Ministry, the draft MoU provides for establishing a steering committee to work out the implementation modalities for approval by the three Governments. The MoU could be signed at an occasion when leaders of all three countries would meet but all sides are yet to work on identifying the occasion. “However, I want to share there that at the moment, our priorities are to complete and commission the ongoing five hydropower projects, namely PHPA I and II, Mangdechu, Kholongchu and Nikachu.” Lyonpo said.

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