An agreement was signed with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), India on Tuesday to build the 1,320MW coal-fired power plant in Rampal, Bagerhat, near the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
Financed by Indian Exim Bank, the $1.49-billion project is expected to be finished and start producing electricity by 2019.
Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Ltd (BIFPCL) signed the contract for the main plant EPC (turnkey basis) package with the BHEL at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.
BHEL General Manager Prem Pal Yadav and BIFPCL Managing Director Ujjal Kanti Bhattacharya signed the agreement on behalf of their organisations.
BIFPCL selected BHEL through an international open bidding process, as they are technically qualified and financially most effective for the project's implementation.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and former Indian premier Manmohan Singh unveiled the foundation plaque of the project on October 5, 2013 when Manmohan was still in office.
“We are setting the best example by building this project despite huge criticisms,” said Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, adviser to the prime minister on power and energy.
State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid and Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla termed Rampal power plant the biggest friendship project between the two countries.
Terming the agreement “historic,” Power Secretary of India Pradeep Kumar Pujari claimed that it would not create any adverse impact on the environment as “two large and most experienced entities of India are involved in this project. It will be completed on time maintaining international standards.”
Demanding that the plant be shifted from the current location, local and international green activists have been protesting the construction of the project, fearing that it would harm the Sundarbans, River Pashur and the nearby areas in the long run.
The government, however, claims that it would take all necessary measures to prevent any harm to the environment.