Bangladesh has almost finalized a deal with the UK to buy an ocean survey ship for Tk 55 crore [one crore is 10 million] against the background of disputes over oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal with India and Myanmar [Burma].
Officials of the finance ministry told the New Age last week that the Bangladesh Navy had sought Tk 55 crore, equivalent to five million pounds, to buy a hydrographic survey vessel from the Royal Navy of the UK, and they are dealing with the matter on a priority basis.
Bangladesh, an impoverished country which can meet only two- thirds of the demand for gas and electricity, needs to enhance the number of surveys and exploration activities in the Bay for its energy security.
Besides, Bangladesh needs sufficient data to establish its claim on the country’s maritime boundary it is sandwiched between India and Myanmar in the upper part of the Bay which is thought to have considerable deposits of hydrocarbon.
Bangladesh registered its objections with the United Nations to the claims of India and Myanmar in 2009 as it had disputes over territorial waters in the Bay with both the countries in two areas – natural prolongation of the continental shelf and the baseline.
At present, the country is carrying out a seismic survey in the Bay under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Seas at a cost of more then Tk 50 crore.
The survey is being implanted by the foreign affairs ministry which is dealing with the case against India in the UN tribunal. Dhaka has already estimated that it would require Tk 80 crore to finance the legal battle against India in the UN in the next eight years.
The purchase of the hydrographic survey vessel is a part of the government’s mega-plan for making the Bangladesh Navy a ‘three- dimensional’ force which can operate underwater, on the surface and in the air.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last week, while adressing the officers and sailors at the Naval Headquarters, revealed that two more frigates would be added to the Navy soon.
Initiatives have taken to buy a hydrographic survey ship from the UK and to equip two large patrol boats with missiles made by China, she said, adding that agreements for the purchase of two helicopters and the same number of offshore patrol boats from the UK were in the final stage.
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