BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Current Affairs - 2019
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The 4th BIMSTEC Summit concluded in Kathmandu with signing and adoption of Kathmandu Declaration by all the seven members (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand). After conclusion of summit, current chair of BIMSTEC, Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli also handed over Chairmanship of next (fifth) BIMSTEC Summit to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. During this summit, foreign ministers of BIMSTEC member countries had signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection.
18-point Kathmandu Declaration aims to enhance effectiveness of BIMSTEC Secretariat by engaging it in various technical and economic activities in the region. It acknowledges importance of trade and investment as one of major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region. It also deplored terrorist attacks in all parts of the world, including in BIMSTEC countries, and strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.
It also reiterated strong commitment of BIMSTEC countries to combat terrorism and called upon all countries to devise comprehensive approach in this regard. Member countries also agreed to expedite conclusion of BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and called upon member states for its early ratification. It also expressed satisfaction that many member states have ratified BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
BIMSTEC countries also agreed to establish seamless multi-modal transportation linkages and smooth, synchronised and simplified transit facilities through the development, expansion and modernisation of highways, railways, waterways, sea routes and airways in the region. They also decided to speed up efforts to conclude BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement as early as possible taking into account special circumstances and needs of the member states.
BIMSTEC countries also decided for early conclusion of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, and directed the BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting and its subsidiary bodies, including Trade Negotiating Committee, to expedite finalisation of all related agreements of FTA as early as possible.
BIMSTEC countries also called for exploring possibility of establishing BIMSTEC Development Fund with voluntary contributions from member states. The fund will be utilised for research and planning of BIMSTEC and financing of projects, and other activities of regional organisation.
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Power for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with member states of BIMSTEC for establishing BIMSTEC grid interconnections. The MoU will be signed at the 3rd BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Meeting that will be held in Nepal shortly.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a sub-regional group of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal viz. Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. It was established on 6th June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In 2005, during the first BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Conference held in New Delhi, a Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation in BIMSTEC was formulated. As a part of the plan, under the BIMSTEC Trans-Power Exchange and Development Project, a task force under the leadership of Thailand was formed comprising the representatives of member countries to come up with a report on draft MoU for grid interconnections.
After a total of five meetings, the draft MoU for the establishment of the BIMSTEC grid interconnection was finalised on March 16, 2015.
The leaders reached a consensus to expedite the signing of the MoU on BIMSTEC grid interconnection during the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat, 2016 held in Goa.
In the fourth meeting of BIMSTEC held in January 2017, the MoU was discussed and finalised.
The MoU provides a broad framework of cooperation for the implementation of grid interconnections for the purpose of carrying out trade in electricity. Its objective is to promote rational and optimal power transmission in the BIMSTEC region.
The MoU for the establishment of the BIMSTEC grid interconnection facilitates:
- Optimization of energy resources in the BIMSTEC region for mutual benefits on non-discriminatory basis subject to laws, rules and regulations of the respective Parties;
- Promotion of efficient, economic, and secure operation of power system by developing regional electricity networks;
- Necessity of optimization of capital investment for additional capacity generation across the region; and
- Power exchange through cross-border interconnections.