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Dhaka Tribune

Coal-based power plants yet to see construction

Update : 21 Apr 2013, 06:03 AM


Work to build coal-based power plants is yet to begin, even though the government is four years into its tenure. Initially, the government had a plan to inaugurate a total of five coal-based power plants under both government and private initiatives.

Of the private ones, the Orion group was assigned to install three power plants in June 2011in a bid to add 1,088MW of electricity to the national grid.

In addition, the government initiated plans for the construction of two more power plants - with capacities of 250MW and 1,320MW respectively - in a joint venture with India.

These power plants were scheduled to become operational by March 2016, but the groundwork for the projects has fallen well behind schedule.

Chairman of the Power Development Board (PDB), Abdul Wahab Khan told the Dhaka Tribune: “Except the government initiated power plant, the rest of the power plants will be run on imported coal. It may take more time to start coal based power plants as they require an infrastructure to import the coal.”

He went on to express hope that the foundations of the new power plants would be laid within the next few months, although no sign of said construction was evident so far.

Last year the cabinet committee on purchase gave approval to build the government owned 250MW power plant in Barapukuria, adjacent to an existing plant.

Of the private plants, one will be installed at Mawa of Munshiganj with a capacity of 522MW while two others with a total capacity of 566MW will be constructed in the Khulna region.

As per the contract, the government will pay Tk4.79 per unit of electricity produced at the Mawa plant and Tk4.45 for power supplied from the other two plants.

“According to agreements, the company was supposed to complete financial closings by March last year, but failed to do so,” Additional Secretary and acting Director General Tapos Kumar Roy told the Dhaka Tribune.

“Orion group has sought more time to complete the financial closings,” he added.

Orion Group spokesman Chowdhury Khaled Masud said: “We are negotiating with the government and hope to be able to construct the power plants.”

The Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited held its first board meeting in January last year where it was decided to build the 1320MW coal-based power plant at Rampal, Bagerhat - close tothe world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.

However, at a meeting convened by PDB to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report related to the project, the proposal was rejected by environmentalists on the grounds that the report failed to adequately cover issues relating to the ecology, fauna, flora and the livelihood of the local population.

“A Power plant depending on imported coal is possible, but it requires proper planning - the government lacks it,” Professor Ijaz Hossain from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) told the Dhaka Tribune. He stressed on monitoring the implementation of projects for power plants, as mere plans to build them would not yield any result.

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