Sub-Regional Cooperation gains momentum

The second meetings of the JWGs on Sub-Regional Cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on Water Resources Management and Power/Hydropower and on Connectivity and Transit were held in New Delhi on 30-31 January 2015 in a friendly and cordial atmosphere. The Bangladesh delegation was led by Mr. Tareq Md. Ariful Islam, Director General (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Bhutanese delegation by Dasho Yeshi Wangdi, Director General, Department of Hydropower and Power Systems, Ministry of Economic Affairs; the Nepalese delegation by Mr. Prakash Kumar Suvedi, Joint Secretary (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Indian delegation respectively by Mr. Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary (North) and Ms. Sripriya Ranganathan, Joint Secretary (BM), Ministry of External Affairs. The participation by all the four countries for the first time in these JWGs was appreciated.

The delegations welcomed the opportunity to exchange views on various possibilities for cooperation at a sub-regional level for mutual benefit.

The JWG on Water Resources Management and Power/Hydropower reviewed the existing cooperation in this sector. It discussed the scope for power trade and inter-grid connectivity between the four countries as well as potential for closer cooperation in future power projects. It was agreed that joint efforts would be made to explore harnessing of water resources including hydropower and power from other sources available in the sub-region. It was also agreed to exchange lists of potential future hydropower/power projects to be undertaken jointly involving at least three countries on equitable basis. Exchange of experiences and best practices in other areas of power sector among the four countries was also discussed.

The JWG took stock of the existing bilateral arrangements between the four countries on data sharing for flood forecasting and ways of improving the same. Possibility of exchanging best practices on basin wide water resources management and development was also discussed.

The JWG on Connectivity and Transit reviewed existing arrangements. It agreed on the significance of BBIN agreements to enable movement of motor vehicles and railways. The meeting exchanged ideas on potential cargo (both roads and railways) and bus routes, involving at least three countries in addition to the existing bilateral routes and also agreed to share suggestions in this regard. It was also decided to explore the possibility of using multi-modal transport to meet commercial as well as tourist needs.

The JWG deliberated on the need for trade facilitation at land border stations for effective sub-regional connectivity. It exchanged views on usefulness of sharing trade infrastructure at land border stations and harmonization of customs procedures.

The meetings also discussed about the terms of reference for both JWGs.

The next meeting of the JWGs would be held in the second half of 2015 in Bangladesh.

New Delhi
31st January, 2015

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