Opening a new chapter in bilateral relations, India on Wednesday began supplying electricity to Bangladesh in return for Internet bandwidth that will help connect its North Eastern states, a move that Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as historic.
India will supply 100 megawatt of electricity in return for 10 Gigabits per second Internet bandwidth.
Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina launched the twin links through video conference.
“In my opinion this is an historic occasion,” Modi said as he nudged Dhaka to join the space cooperation with India.
India, he said, is marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Bangladesh in its progress and today is the opening of a new chapter, he said.
“In an era of inter-dependent world, the two nations have further strengthened their ties,” he said.
Hasina said: “The relation between the countries has further consolidated through the supply of power and Internet bandwidth.”
As much as 100 MW of power will be supplied to Bangladesh from Tripua. PowerGrid Corporation of India Ltd has erected 400 KV d/c line from Suryamaninagar (Agartala) to the Indian border while its Bangladeshi counterpart, PowerGrid Corporation of Bangladesh Ltd has laid a line from there to Comilla.
Simultaneously, a new gateway to give broadband connectivity to North-East states via Bangladesh was also opened.
“We have gateways in west and south but entire east was untouched. As part of my Act East policy, this gateway in the east is very important. The opening of eastern gateway in association with Bangladesh will bring connectivity to eastern region particularly Assam, Tripura and Sikkim,” Modi said.
Prime Minister said previously road connectivity between Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Bhutan had been initiated. “Today we are doing electricity and digital connectivity... we have to cooperate in space too. It is our desire that Bangladesh joins India in space satellite mission too,” he said.
Modi, while speaking on the occasion, said, “The two countries have set an example (before the world) that how to maintain relations with the neighbours and what could be the path for establishing an interdependent world.”
The supply of 100 MW power from Tripura is in line with the decision taken at the 7th Joint Working Group meeting on Power in April in response to Bangladesh’s goodwill gesture of allowing transport of over-oversized cargo during the construction of the Palatana power plant in Tripura in 2011.
Discussions on the pricing were finalised at the joint technical committee meeting held during the visit of Tripura’s Power Minister to Dhaka on January 9, 2015.
India’s state-run Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) erected 400 KV d/c line from Agartala’s Suryamaninagar to the Indian border while Powergrid Corporation of Bangladesh Ltd built the transmission line from the border point to Comilla.
On the other hand, the bandwidth connection came as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) signed an agreement for leasing of international bandwidth for Internet at Akhaura during Modi’s 2015 Dhaka visit, officials said.
BSCCL has laid the optical fibre cable for the 30 km distance from Brahmanbaria to Akhaura, which adjoins Agartala, while BSNL has set up international long distance (ILD) gateway at Agartala along with associated equipment.
India is already supplying 500 MW of power to Bangladesh through the Bahrampur-Bheramara inter-connection and supply of another 500 MW through the same interconnection was also announced during Modi’s 2015 visit.
In addition, India’s NTPC and Bangladesh’ BPDB has entered into a Joint venture (BIFPCL) for commissioning of the 1320 MW Rampal power project for which India’s BHEL has been recently identified as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor.
The Internet bandwidth export will enable reliable and fast Internet connectivity for the people of Tripura as well as other part’s of India’s northeastern region.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla and senior officials of the concerned ministries were among those present.
Hasina, in her speech, said, “We always remember India’s cooperation during the liberation movement in 1971.”
On power supply, she said during her visit to Tripura in 2012, she discussed the matter of getting power from the state’s Palatana project.
Hasina said her country was getting 500 MW power from India now and both the countries made considerable development in the field of cooperation through roads, railways and power.
She also thanked Prime Minister Modi and Tripura Chief Minister Sarkar for their cooperation.