Indian financing agency taking ‘unusual’ amount of time to give go-ahead for bidding
The timely execution of a number power transmission projects taken for electricity distribution from the upcoming 2,400 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) looks uncertain, as the Indian financing agency is taking an “unusual” amount time to approve the bidding process.
According to sources at the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB), the state-owned power transmission body took the projects to facilitate power distribution from the RNPP, the country’s maiden under-construction nuclear power project being implemented with financial support from the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
Dhaka signed a $1.06-billion loan agreement with New Delhi in 2017 over the financing of these projects, with the target of implementing them by 2022 as the 1,200 MW first unit of the Rooppur NPP is expected to start commercial production from the first half of 2023.
The five transmission projects are: 464km 400kV transmission lines including 13-km river crossing, 205km 230kV transmission lines including 7-km river crossing, 400kV 5 Bay Extensions, 230kV 4 Bay Extensions and qualitative upgradation of the Bangladesh power system for frequency control and frequency drop protection, protection system, emergency control system and other associated tasks.
Sources said the 464km 400kV transmission line project has been divided into four segments for smooth implementation: the 102km Rooppur-Bogra line, 144km Rooppur-Gopalganj line, 147km Rooppur-Dhaka line and 51km Aminbazar-Kaliakoir line.
Work on the 13km river crossing has been divided into two segments: the 6km Padma River crossing line and 7km Jamuna River crossing line.
Similarly, the 230kV transmission line project was divided into three packages: the 60km Rooppur-Baghabari line, 145km Rooppur-Dhamrai line, and 7km Jamuna River crossing line.
PGCB officials said they have completed the bidding process for some packages of the projects, but the bidding process of some other segments are still stuck due to delays in the clearance from the Indian financing agency.
“Of these segments, bidding for the most critical river crossing works and bay extensions are suffering from the lengthy bureaucratic tangle in getting the necessary approval from the India Exim Bank,” a PGCB top official told UNB, asking for anonymity.
He said the timely start of operations of the Rooppur NPP project will depend on the timely implementation of the power transmission projects.
“If the power transmission infrastructure and facilities are not ready, the Rooppur plant will not be able to start operation even if the nuclear power project is completed in time,” the PGCB official added.
When contacted, PGCB Managing Director Golam Kibria admitted there were delays in the projects’ bidding process, but he also said he is hopeful of getting clearance from the Indian financing agency quickly.