The authorities at Rampal thermal power plant have been forced to suspend the production of electricity just 27 days after the starting of commercial production due to the shortage of coals required for the plant.
Anwarul Azim, deputy general manager of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited, said the production was suspended on Saturday as Bangladesh Bank barred the company from placing import orders for coals due to the ongoing dollar shortage in the country.
Before suspending operation, the plant on average produced 560 to 570 MW of power every day and supplied 450 MW to the national grid. The rest was allocated for the Khulna region.
Senior officials at BIFPCL said despite repeated requests and meetings, they could not get a nod from the central bank to open letters of credit or LCs to import coal necessary to run the plant.
The company raised the issue with the Power Division and Bangladesh Power Development Board.
“Since we are unable to pay, we are unable to import. We require at least 5,000 tonnes of coal for regular power production. We were forced to suspend production as we don’t have enough coal,” Anwarul said on Sunday.
“We had some coal in our stock, but we just ran out of it, hence the suspension,” he added.
Anwarul said a consignment of coal is ready to be shipped from Indonesia as soon as the LC is cleared, adding the plant can resume production as soon as the shipment arrives in Bangladesh.
The terms of the agreement of the plant dictate that the BPDB will still have to pay the company capacity charge even if the plant suspends production.
In August 2010, BPDB and India's state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation or NTPC signed a memorandum of understanding to build the power plant in Bagerhat’s Rampal.
Two years later, on Jan 29, 2012, an agreement was signed with NTPC to build the plant under a joint venture.
The plant has been at the centre of controversy since its inception as environmentalists mounted a strong campaign to address the negative impact the coal-fired power plant would have on the nearby Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world.
During her visit to India on Sept 6 last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated one unit of the plant. The plant started supplying electricity to the National Grid on Dec 17.