Bangladesh had been discussing plans for electricity imports with Myanmar’s military government following an invitation to invest in hydropower projects planned to be built in Arakan state. Under the proposed deal, Bangladesh would be able to import electricity but Myanmar also wanted to set conditions that included payment of a 30% royalty and a planned plant reverting to state ownership after 35 years of production.

Beyond criticism of the financial cost by experts in Bangladesh, who believe the money would be better spent domestically, another obstacle is finding a suitable river near the border with the potential to produce enough electricity to make the project feasible.

A local press report claims that the Mi-Chung and Sang-Don rivers in the Arakan state could only produce an estimated 100MW and 80MW power, respectively. The Lemro River has the potential to produce an estimated 400MW-600MW but its distance from the border would cause difficulties.

Another challenge is the terrain on which it would be difficult to set up and maintain a power grid between the two countries.

No decision has yet been taken, and teams from Bangladesh and Myanmar are scheduled to meet on 12 November to discuss several issues, although it is not known if the hydropower plants will be discussed at the meeting.