Power line to West Bengal could help Nepal sell power to Bangladesh

Nepal has cross-border transmission lines with the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, but the only Indian state not connected to Nepal by a transmission line is West Bengal.

The two countries decided to conduct a study on the feasibility of constructing a cross-border transmission line between Nepal and West Bengal during the meetings of the Joint Secretary-level Task Force and the Joint Secretary-level Steering Committee. on bilateral cooperation in the electricity sector held in Kathmandu on 23-24 February.

The existing joint technical team was authorized to conduct the study. Officials said transmission connectivity with West Bengal could also open a route to transport power from Nepal to Bangladesh through Indian Territory.

“The immediate objective of the agreement with India is to determine whether transmission connectivity between Nepal and the Indian state of West Bengal is possible,” said Chiranjeevi Chataut, co-secretary at the Ministry of Energy. , Water Resources and Irrigation. “Once connectivity is established with this part of India, the possibility of exporting power to Bangladesh from Nepal through an existing or new dedicated transmission line in West Bengal cannot be ruled out.”

Chataut, however, said the joint technical team will first investigate whether connectivity in West Bengal is feasible and how it could be made possible.

“There are quite a few fundamentals that need to be finalized first, such as the connection of the two countries’ substations, the length of the transmission line, the capacity of the substations connecting the cross-border transmission line, and the cost. construction of such a power line,” he said. noted. “Afterwards, the construction modality of such a transmission line can be finalized.”

According to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), there is a 132 kV substation in the Anarmani area of ​​Jhapa.

“It could become the connection point on the Nepal side for a cross-border transmission line with West Bengal,” said Dirghayu Kumar Shrestha, Chief Transmission Officer at NEA.

But it is a relatively small capacity substation that can carry no more than 150 MW of electricity, according to the NEA. The public utility company plans to extend the 400kV Hetauda-Bardibas-Inaruwa transmission line under construction to Anarmani.

“Once the 400 kV transmission line reaches Anarmani, it can be built up to the Indian territory of West Bengal, which can serve as a high capacity link like the 400 kV cross-border transmission line Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur,” said said Shrestha.

According to him, a study is currently underway to finalize the route of the extension of the 400kV transmission line from Inaruwa to Anarmani. The World Bank financed the feasibility study. Once this power line is ready, there will be two connection points, 132 kV and 400 kV, on the Nepal side.

“Cross-border connectivity with the 132 kV line can be established quickly because there is already a substation on the Nepal side, but we will have to wait to establish connectivity through the 400 kV transmission line because such a substation does not has not yet been built on the Nepal side. “Shrestha said.

Nepal and India have agreed to explore the possibility of an interconnector between Nepal and West Bengal at a time when Bangladesh has shown keen interest in investing in Nepal’s hydropower sector and purchasing power.

Nepal and Bangladesh have also held talks for power exchange between the two countries.

Bangladesh has already decided to purchase 500 MW of power from the 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. The Indian group GMR, which created GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower Limited, is preparing to develop the project in Nepal.

As Nepal has enjoyed a monsoon power surplus since last year, the country is also keen to sell power to India and Bangladesh.

During the joint secretary-level steering committee meeting between Nepal and Bangladesh in September last year, the two sides had also agreed to develop a dedicated transmission line between the two countries taking India on board. , according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation.

Bangladesh has also shown interest in developing hydropower projects in Nepal, including the Sunkoshi III hydropower project, according to the Ministry of Energy.

“The development of a dedicated transmission line between Nepal and Bangladesh through Indian Territory was not on the agenda of our discussions with India this week,” Chataut said. “But the transmission line connectivity with West Bengal can open the door for the sale of power to Bangladesh through the existing transmission line in India if the southern neighbor gives its approval.”

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