Bangladesh, on Friday, began importing electricity from India on an experimental basis, adding 50 MW to the national grid.

The import, which took roughly three years to materialise after it was decided in 2010, was part of the country’s plan to help ease the crisis.

The test-supply of 50 MW electricity was transmitted on Friday morning through an electrical grid inter-connection point in Bheramara, Kushtia, opposite to West Bengal of India. A 125-km transmission line has been constructed between Baharampur of India and Bheramara in Bangladesh. Of this, 40 km fell inside Bangladesh.

Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB), which is the co-ordinator of the import process, said by the end of October around 250MW of power would be imported into Bangladesh. Another 250MW was expected to be imported from India’s private sector by November this year.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2010 regarding import of 500 MW of power from India. Officials here said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would go to Bheramara and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh would formally inaugurate the power export to Bangladesh via video conference from Delhi on October 5. Authorities said half of this power would be coming from the Indian Government electricity quota, and the rest from the open market. Experts believe the total amount of electricity, which will be imported under a 35-year contract, will greatly improve the country’s power situation, which is now being tackled through costly but short-term rental power plants.

Controversy

The government, meanwhile, rejected the allegations that the coal-based power plant, being constructed under an India-Bangladesh joint venture project in Rampal, near the Sundarbans, would adversely affect the world’s largest mangrove forest. The National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, and Power-Port, a body of the left-leaning parties and environmentalist groups, have already vowed to resist the planned inauguration of the Rampal Power Plant scheduled on October 22.

The committee members will end their five-day cross-country long march to the Sundarbans on Saturday in an effort to stall the project. The pro-left participants in the long march alleged that the coal-based project would harm bio-diversity and ruin the world heritage. However, the government has been claiming that the environment would not be harmed, as there would be enough checks to prevent pollution.

The Rampal Thermal Power Plant will be located within 14 km of the Sundarbans.