Bangladesh and India on Saturday signed three agreements for a joint coal-based power company project.
The pacts - Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Implementation Agreement (IA) and Supplementary Joint Venture Agreement (SJVA) - were inked in Dhaka in the evening for a 1320MW coal-based Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BIFPCL) in Khulna’s Rampal.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bangladesh and India during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January 2011. In the MoU, the fields of cooperation in power sector were identified as exchange of power, grid connectivity, energy efficiency and electricity generation.
Last January, a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) was also signed between India’s state-owned electric utilities company National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bangladesh’s Power Development Board (PDB) with ‘equal equity participation (50:50)’ for developing power projects in Bangladesh.
The 1320MW coal-based power plant in Rampal upazila will be a joint venture between the neighbouring countries. The project profile also set a goal to finish the project by 2018.
The thermal power plant is proposed to be set up over 1,834 acres of land near the Mongla seaport, though environmentalists have been warning that the plant would have a disastrous impact on the nearby Sundarbans - the world’s largest mangrove forest. They have also been staging protests to make the government cancel the project.
But the governments of both India and Bangladesh have claimed that the Sundarbans would not be affected by the plant.
At the agreements signing ceremony on Saturday, Power Secretary Monwar Islam said, “According to the master plan, the goal is to generate 20,000 megawatt electricity using coal by 2030. This is the beginning of implementation of the plan.”
A huge part of the power generated in Bangladesh comes from fuel-based power plants where the generation cost is relatively higher. The importance of coal-based power generation is increasing considering the option of multi-fuel power plants.
The government has approved establishing another 1,300MW power plant in Chittagong. Coals will have to be imported for these two plants.
Meanwhile, the plan to import 500 MW power from India is also nearing the execution stage, as construction of a power grid in Kushtia’s Bheramara for the purpose is almost complete.
Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury at the agreement signing ceremony said the 500 MW would be coming from India by this July.
NTPC Chairman and Managing Director Arup Roy Chowdhury said this was the biggest initiative of the Corporation outside India and that’s why this project was special for them.
Indian Ambassador to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran said this project was also the largest joint venture taken up by Bangladesh and India.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, State Minister for Power Mohammad Enamul Haque and India’s Power Secretary P Uma Shankar were present at the agreement signing ceremony.