India, Bhutan review energy cooperation

Kuensel | Thukten Zangpo | November 3, 2022

Bhutan and India discussed the bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, including newer areas of cooperation in the field of renewable energy particularly solar power and e-mobility during the visit of India’s power secretary.

A joint press release stated that at the invitation of the economic affairs secretary, Karma Tshering, Indian delegation led by the power secretary, Alok Kumar met from October 29 to 31 to review all aspects of Bhutan-India energy cooperation.

On 31 October 2022, bilateral talks reviewed the progress in the implementation of all the ongoing bilateral hydropower projects, exchanged views on aspects related to power trading, and discussed ways to further expand hydro-power cooperation for mutual benefit.

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment towards the completion of the ongoing hydropower projects in a timely manner. Also, they reaffirmed taking the long-standing cooperation forward in a mutually beneficial way in the spirit of a friendly relationship between the two countries, the press release stated.

In view of the geological challenges faced while implementing the Punatsangchhu-I Project, both sides agreed to jointly work towards achieving a technically safe and cost-effective solution in a time-bound manner, it added.

The power secretary also visited Punatsangchhu-I and II Hydroelectric Power Projects.

The delegations expressed satisfaction with the overall progress of Punatsangchhu-II project and the pace of work despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic.

Bhutan appreciated the important role played by the revenue generated from hydropower projects in supporting Bhutan’s economy, especially during the pandemic.

“It was agreed to maintain a steady oversight under the existing mechanisms to ensure timely completion of the project,” the press release stated.

Both sides underscored the importance to complete the Kholongchhu project and agreed to revise its implementation modality as per the request of the Bhutanese government. The Bhutanese delegation thanked India for the technical support extended by experts from Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL). The Indian side reaffirmed continued support for the successful completion and operation of the project.

There was also agreement that technical groups and bilateral mechanisms will meet as per timelines agreed by the two sides, for continuous oversight of the ongoing projects and to make progress on all aspects of bilateral hydropower cooperation.

The power secretary also called on the Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering and the Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma.

The power secretary extended an invitation to the economic affairs secretary to visit India to further strengthen the Bhutan-India energy cooperation.