Third joint working group meetings on sub-regional cooperation held in Dhaka
The third meetings of the Joint Working Groups (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 Dhaka on 19-20 January 2016.
The Bangladesh delegation was led by Tareq Md. Ariful Islam, Director General (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Bhutanese delegation by Karma P Dorji, Director, Department of Hydropower and Power Systems, Ministry of Economic Affairs; the Nepalese delegation by Prakash Kumar Suvedi, Joint Secretary (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Indian delegation respectively by Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary (North) and Ms. Sripriya Ranganathan, Joint Secretary (BM), Ministry of External Affairs.
Discussions at the meeting were cordial, constructive and forward looking, with many new initiatives for deepening sub regional cooperation identified and deliberated upon.
The joint working groups on water resources management and power/ hydropower carried forward earlier discussions on scope for power trade and inter-grid connectivity cooperation in future power projects and water resources management between the four countries. Specific hydropower projects under BBIN framework that could be concretized on equitable basis were discussed.
It was decided that an experts group would be constituted for exchanging best practices in water resources management and on specifics of the identified projects, power trade, inter grid connectivity, flood forecasting and other areas of possible cooperation.
The joint groups on connectivity and transit reviewed progress under the BBIN MVA and made recommendations relevant to this process.
It was agreed to commence discussion on the possibility of having a BBIN rail agreement drawing on the draft SAARC Regional Rail Agreement template. It was also agreed that land ports/ land customs stations crucial for sub regional trade and transit would be given priority attention by all four countries.
The next meeting of the joint working groups would be held in the second half of 2016 in India.