The company that is developing a controversial coal-fired power plant near the Sundarbans forest has extended its bid submission deadline a second time, because earlier invitations for bids have met with scant enthusiasm.
The Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Pvt Ltd (BIFPCL) extended, for the second time, the deadline to submit bids to set up the 2 x 660MW Maitree Super Coal-fired Thermal Power Project in Rampal on an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract basis.
The original May 18 deadline was extended to July 16 because the invitation for bids drew a poor response. Bids are now due by September 22.
The project, touted as a success of regional cooperation by the Bangladeshi and Indian governments, which each have a 15% stake in BIFPCL, has seen three French commercial banks and two major multi-laterals fight shy of any association with the project.
The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have declined to finance the project, so BIFPCL has decided to take Export Credit Agency (ECA) loans which involve high interest rates.
Three French banks said they would not invest in the plant, after it was found that the proposed project failed to meet minimum environmental and social standards.
On July 6, a notice singed by BIFPCL Managing Director U K Bhattacharya announced the extension.
“Only six international bidders have so far bought tender documents more than five months after the tender period opened. They have sought an extension to prepare and submit their techno-commercial and financial bid proposals,” U K Bhattacharya told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
He said representatives of companies from China, Japan, India, Spain and South Korea discussed and sought explanations and clarifications on the financial aspects of the project.
On February 12, BIFPCL invited bids to set up the plant.
BIFPCL is a joint venture between Bangladesh’s Power Development Board and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation, who have 30% equity on an equal share basis. The remaining 70% will be mobilised as Export Credit Agency loans.
Environmentalists, left-wing political organisations and the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, a lobby group, have long demanded that the project be scrapped to protect the Sundarbans, a Unesco world heritage site.
Unesco has asked the government to relocate the power project to protect the forest, saying it would otherwise be moved to the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The government denies the power plant will harm the Sundarbans.