WB advocates regional co-op in power, water
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

The World Bank has taken initiatives to engage Bangladesh, India and Nepal in talks to explore possibility of joint projects in power and water management sectors for common benefits.

As part of its regional integration initiatives in South Asia, the global lender has already started discussion on the issue with Bangladesh and will also talk to Nepal and India to bring the three nations to the point of agreement in sharing energy and water resources. ‘South Asia is the least integrated region compared with others.

Regional integration not only helps higher GDP growth rate, but also increases capability of facing natural disasters and climate changes in a better way,’ World Bank vice-president Praful C Patel said in Dhaka Monday after a meeting with foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury.

Patel, who is on a mission to sell the idea, will be in Nepal on Wednesday to persuade the authorities there before ending up in India.

The WB executive said India was the worst power-starved country and a regional cooperation could be worked out on win-win basis through consultations among Bangladesh, India and Nepal to meet the power shortage, which is common in Bangladesh as well. The lending agency would continue its support to the development agenda of Bangladesh’s caretaker government, he assured during talks with the foreign adviser.

The global bank earlier approved $370 million credit for Bangladesh as budgetary support and cyclone Sidr exigencies. It signed a deal Monday in Dhaka with the government for $100 million out of the total credit agreed.

The foreign adviser said the World Bank was supportive of SAARC initiatives and it would extend support to mutually beneficial integrated projects in power and water sectors in the region.

Replying to a question, he said Bangladesh’s priority areas include environment and post-Sidr initiatives. ‘We want to establish a linkage through which a win-win situation can be achieved.’

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