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Tri-nation gas pipeline: No deal unless Delhi meets three conditions, says Dhaka

From The Independent, Bangladesh
March 3, 2005
link to this article.

Bangladesh rejected an Indian offer to construct an Indo-Bangladesh rail track and also set conditions for signing deal on the planned trination gas pipeline.

Indian side placed the proposal for cross-border railway in the recent technical committee meeting on the proposed trination gas pipeline in Myanmar.

Bangladesh made it clear that it would not sign the deal on installation of the trination gas pipeline unless India met its three preconditions concerning land transit and trade gap.

The conditions have it that India would have to allow Bangladesh to export its goods to Nepal and Bhutan through its corridor; allow the import electricity from Nepal through Indian territory; and take measures to reduce the trade imbalance with Bangladesh.

State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain made clear Dhaka's stance while talking to reporters at his office in the Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday.

He, however, said the Indian side agreed to accept the conditions before the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the trination technical committee meet last week.

"Bangladesh won't sign the deal on the trination gas pipeline unless its three conditions are accommodated in the deal," he said.

Getting such a positive signal from India, the Energy Ministry has sent a note recently to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) seeking its directive to two other relevant ministries - Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Commerce - to prepare the proposals in detail regarding the conditions.

The proposals should be prepared as soon as possible, the minister said.

"We need to immediately inform India about our conditions as to what we want and when," he said adding, the MoU would need to mention the specific timeframe about the matters.

Mosharraf said a decision was made in the meeting of the trination technical committee to appoint an international consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive study to ascertain the feasibility of the gas pipeline.

He said the international consortium, which would implement the proposed gas pipeline project, would finally bear the cost of the feasibility study. But initially the three countries might bear the cost.

The state minister said earlier it was decided by the three nations to hold the next meeting of the technical committee in Dhaka in April to sign the MoU on the proposed pipeline project. "But now it is not clear whether signing the MoU would be possible in April as the whole matter needs more time to finalise."

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