Monday, 14 October 2013

India- Nepal- Bangladesh Cooperation Over Hydropower

With the increase in population and development, need for energy has increased exponentially. For meeting the demands we need to work out all the options we can to generate electricity. The resource rich Seven Sisters States (North Eastern states of India) are connected to the Indian main land through a narrow land strip between Bangladesh and Nepal borders called Chicken's Neck (or Siliguri Corridor). It is very difficult and costly for India to get benefit from the resources of Seven Sisters through this narrow land strip. River system in the north eastern part of India is major source through which we can generate electricity. Considering the international nature of the rivers involved, India-Nepal- Bangladesh (INB) has decided to cooperate & exploit over hydropower generation & use.          

Proposed IDEA :                                                

  • First initiative will be through Ganga (a river which flows through all of the INB). Ganga basin has tremendous potential for development of water resources and hydropower.
  • It indicates a growth in sub regional strategic alliance for infrastructure development. Has potential to change economic landscape of entire north-eastern India, entire Nepal and Bangladesh.
  • Instead of tapping dam rivers, options are also being put for Runof- the-river project. So no dislocation of people, no killing of local culture & not creating socio-cultural problems in tribal areas.
  • Project has a potential of 70,000 MW to 100,000 MW.


1. Power in the form of electricity generation.
2. Economic Change: 100,000 MW can be generated which has the potential to change the economic landscape of the region.
3. Transformation of region: Development of poor areas of India (like UP, Bihar) & progress of Nepal and Bangladesh.
4. Bring these countries more closely on economic grounds which will remain intact even under political pressure.
5. Will help in attracting FDI, investment, business growth, etc. – a multiplier effect.
6. Will help tourism to grow.
7. Also chances to make international industrial townships.
8. Poverty eradication and better socio-economic integration.
9. Similar initiatives in the form of Bhutan, Bangladesh and India (BIB) is being proposed (for Brahmaputra Basin)


1. Minimize transmission leakages before everything is implemented between these three countries which plague our generation and transmission capacities.
2. Gestation period is longer. So private players less interested as time required for profits to come will be more.
3. Investment is huge. So private players alone won’t be able to do it. So there is a need for consortium (which includes various state governments and Government of India participating, government of India’s energy companies, Multinational companies participating. & states i.e. countries participating)
4. No environmental issue as substitutes can be used for “Dam Rivers.”
5. Need of strong “will” between India-Nepal-Bangladesh: More than anything this is needed which will automatically solve other problems.

  • It is evident from many examples that with hydropower plants tourism potential of the particular area automatically increases.
  • Nepal wanted to be “Switzerland of Asia.” It has huge tourism potential & can easily become one of the richest countries in the world.
  •  Bihar was one of the richest parts in historic times. Also Buddhism was born there. So is very important from historical context.
  • Bangladesh: traditions, culture and literature in Bangladesh is also famous as a tourist spot.


  • This cooperation will help to ease the power balance in South Asia.
  • will contribute to strengthening the cooperation mechanism and to long-term sustainable development, economic growth
  • Sub-regional cooperation will increase.
  • Close relation based on economic interest will be established.
  • Permanent “Power trade agreement” being discussed between these countries.
  • Chinese defense says ( a Chinese website) - if China can stop India getting electricity corridor through Bangladesh [which will enable India tapping 80 GW cheap hydro electricity to Indian grid], The Super Power Dream of India will be slowed downed further.
  • One more Chinese concern - The biggest "economic gold mine" of Seven Sister is the rich hydro electric potential of the disputed Arunachal Province which is about 80,000 mega watts (80 GW).

DAM RIVERS VS. RUN-OF-THE-RIVER PROJECTS : In Dam Rivers projects water is stored for electricity generation while in run-of-the-river project it is not needed.

Advantages of Run-of-the-river projects:

1. No dislocation of people & killing of local culture
2. Cleaner power, fewer greenhouse gases

Disadvantages of Run-of-the-river projects :

1. “Unfirm” power: Electricity generated from this doesn’t remain constant.
2. Availability of sites: Water has to be channelized (by pipes and tunnels) which is called “head” in such projects to make electricity. This may create some flow problems.
3. Environmental impacts: Where as very low impacts are witnessed in small projects, big projects are surely going to impact environment. 

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