Nepal, India, Bangladesh power trade agreement in ‘final stage’, says envoy
The proposed tripartite (India, Nepal and Bangladesh) power trade pact, the first of its kind in South Asia, was agreed to by the three countries earlier this year and is aimed at meeting a long-standing demand from Nepal and Bangladesh to allow the sale of electricity the Indian grid
A planned tripartite power trade agreement between India, Nepal and Bangladesh is in the final stage, though New Delhi and Dhaka may have to augment their transmission capacities to implement the pact, Nepal’s ambassador Shankar Prasad Sharma said on Thursday.
Sharma also said during a wide-ranging interaction at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) that the Nepal government is yet to decide on the recruitment of its citizens under the Indian Army’s Agnipath scheme that aims to induct personnel for only four years.
The proposed tripartite power trade pact, the first of its kind in South Asia, was agreed to by the three countries earlier this year and is aimed at meeting a long-standing demand from Nepal and Bangladesh to allow the sale of electricity to the Indian grid.
Sharma said the agreement is in the “final stage”. He added: “But any time, we can have the meeting and agree on these areas. But I’m sure because when three countries are involved and this is the first time [it is] being done in South Asia – a tripartite agreement and the implementation of the electricity grid – there could be many things that may arise.”
The envoy pointed out that the implementation of the pact may take some more time since India and Bangladesh currently “don’t have spare transmission capacity”.
He said, “We’ll probably also need to talk and plan about the transmission capacity between India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh is also interested in having investments in Nepal to import electricity from Nepal to Bangladesh, either with their investment or the investment done by other countries.”
During Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to New Delhi in June, he and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi unveiled plans for India to facilitate the export of hydropower from Nepal to Bangladesh. Dahal said a beginning will be made by exporting 50 MW, and officials have noted that there is a potential for this to be ramped up once the agreement is in place.
Responding to a question on the recruitment of Nepalese citizens under the Agnipath scheme, Sharma said the Nepal government is yet to make a decision on this matter. He said no Nepalese citizens had been recruited by the Indian Army since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Things are also different [in Nepal] from the past 10 to 15 years in terms of employment opportunities. India has also not decided [on this matter],” he said, without giving details.
The Indian side submitted a formal proposal to Nepal seeking approval for the recruitment of Nepalese citizens under the Agnipath scheme in July 2022, but there has been no official response from Kathmandu so far, people familiar with the matter said.
The Indian Army has recruited Gurkhas from Nepal since 1947 under the terms of a tripartite agreement between the UK, India and Nepal, and tens of thousands of them serve in six regiments.
Sharma responded to yet another question on reports of Nepalese nationals joining China’s People’s Liberation Army by saying that the Nepal government had issued a statement that said no citizen can join the armed forces of a foreign country without official permission.
“Right now, Nepalese citizens can only join the security forces of the UK, India and Singapore,” he said, adding some Nepalese citizens may have joined the armed forces of the US, Russia and France through “informal” channels.