Unesco has raised concerns over the possible impact of the coal-fired power plant on the Sundarbans
The government took another major step towards the construction of the mega coal power plant at Rampal, near the Sundarbans, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed a much-awaited deal with Indian Exim Bank to finance the joint venture project during her India visit.
The construction of the plant was earlier scheduled to begin in March amid a huge outcry by environmentalists and leftist parties. Unesco and the Ramsar Convention also expressed concerns over the possible impact of the controversial project.
But the government maintains that it will not harm the biodiversity of the Unesco World Heritage Site or the nearby Passur River, which is a sanctuary for freshwater dolphins. The project was inaugurated by the premier in October 2013 and will produce 1,320MW power once completed.
Several accidents of water vessels carrying coal and fuel oil in the Sundarbans rivers have raised alarms, with the government later agreeing to take extra caution to prevent such accidents, and air and water pollution.
The “facility agreement” between Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL) and the Exim Bank was among the 13 MoUs and deals signed at a business forum in Delhi on April 10.
Power and energy sector topped the list of future Indian investment in Bangladesh, going by the deals and agreements amounting to nearly $10 billion.
Key deals and MoUs:
* India’s Petronet LNG signs $1bn agreement for LNG terminal in Bangladesh
* India’s Reliance Power signs pact with Bangladesh’s Petrobangla for setting up of $300m LNG terminal
* India’s NTPC signs $3.15bn deal to supply power to Bangladesh from Nepal
* India’s Numaligarh Refinery signs pact with Bangladesh Petroleum Corp for sale and purchase of gasoil
* India’s Adani Power signs $2bn pact to supply power to Bangladesh
* India’s Exim Bank to help finance $1.6bn power project in Bangladesh
India’s Reliance Power and the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources signed an agreement for the first phase (718MW) of the 3,000MW power project at Meghna Ghat.
A supplementary agreement was signed between NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited and Bangladesh Power Development Board for supply of additional 60MW from Tripura.
They also inked an MoU for supplying power from Nepal. Reuters, quoting Indian government presentation, said the deal was worth $3.15bn.
A $2bn deal between Adani Power (Jharkhand) and the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh was also signed.
Reliance Power signed a $300 million MoU with Petrobangla for setting up 500 mmcfd LNG terminal at Kutubdia. Petrobangla inked another MoU with India Oil Corporation Limited for LNG cooperation.
Petronet LNG and Bangladesh Petroleum Corp struck $1 billion agreement for LNG terminal use with Petrobangla.
India’s Numaligarh Refinery signed pact with BPC for sale and purchase of gasoil.
Hasina, attending the business forum as the chief guest, highlighted Bangladesh’s achievements in the last few years and invited Indian businessmen to invest in Bangladesh.
“… Take full advantage of the steady economic growth, high demographic dividend, competitive business cost and large consumer base,” she told them, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said in a Facebook post.
Hasina also invited Indian companies to invest in the special economic zones in Mongla, Bheramara and Mirshorai which have been exclusively dedicated for Indian investors.
During Hasina’s visit, India also offered $5bn loan to Bangladesh.
“Both investments and credit will be used for the development of several sectors including power and energy, logistics, education, medical, infrastructures and rail, road and waterways,” she told the media on Tuesday.