Rampal foundation stone unveiling Saturday

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will unveil the foundation plaque of the coal-fired Rampal power plant on Saturday amid howls of protests from activists who say it will ruin the Sundarbans.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 4 Oct 2013, 06:13 PM
Updated : 4 Oct 2013, 09:09 PM

Power Secretary Monwar Islam on Friday told bdnews24.com the foundation stone of Maitree Super Thermal Power Project at Bagerhat’s Rampal would be unveiled at Kushtia’s Bheramara at the inauguration ceremony of power import from India.

He said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will join Hasina at the ceremony through a video call.

The government had earlier said that the ceremony would be held on Oct 22.

Asked why the rush, Secretary Islam said, “The foundations will be officially laid at Rampal on Oct 22. But the Indian Prime Minister won’t be able to attend that programme that day. That’s why the ceremony is being arranged on Saturday along with the main function at Bheramara.”

Bangladesh signed an agreement with India in January last year to set up the 1,320MW joint veture named ‘Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited’ with equal partnership.

Environmentalists, political activists, and the local people of Rampal fear the plant will endanger the very existence of the world’s largest mangrove forest, only 14 kilometres away.

The protesters have already held demonstrations against the government move and threatened to thwart the foundation stone-laying ceremony on Oct 22 if the project is not scrapped by Oct 11.

Hasina will inaugurate the Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre and Bheramara 360 Combined Cycle Power Plant at the same programme.

A total of 175 megawatt power from India would be added to the National Grid starting from Saturday.

File Photo

Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) is the coordinator of the import process. Its Managing Director Chowdhury Alamgir Hossain on Sept 27 had said by the end of October around 250MW of power will be imported.
Another 250MW is expected to be bought from India’s private sector by next month.
Each unit will not cost more than Tk 6 as per the agreement, Power Development Board (PDB) member (company affairs) Tomal Chakrabarty had told bdnews24.com.
Around 98 kilometres of conduction line had been set up since Aug 30 in the two countries to facilitate the export-import process. Two switching stations have been set up at Bangladesh’s Bheramara and India’s Bahrampur for power transmission.
Bangladesh is importing the power under a memorandum of understanding signed during Hasina’s 2010 visit to New Delhi.
PDB officials believe power outages would come down to some extent once 500MW is added to the national grid.