India to build Bangladesh's largest coal-fired power plant

Bangladesh and India on Tuesday signed a landmark deal for the construction of a 1,320 megawatt coal-fired power plant at Rampal, the biggest power project in Bangladesh and the biggest project under bilateral cooperation.

The power project is being implemented by Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BIFPCL), a joint partnership between India's state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board.

BIFPCL on Tuesday inked a deal with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), which was selected under an open international tender for constructing the super thermal plant at Bangladesh's southwestern Rampal near the Sundarbans.

India's Exim Bank will provide $1.49 billion for the project, scheduled to start generating power in 2019.

"This ceremony marks the beginning of the biggest project under Bangladesh-India cooperation," state minister for energy and power Nasrul Hamid said.

Environmental groups had opposed the project amid concerns that the coal-fired plant could affect the delicate ecosystem of the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, spread across Bangladesh and India.

Speaking at a function to mark the signing of the agreement, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her energy affairs adviser Toufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and her principal secretary Abul Kalam Azad allayed environmentalists' fears saying that the power project will use the world's most efficient and environment- friendly technology.

"We have a coal-powered plant at (northwestern) Barapukuria in a crowded location which is not affecting the environment while the technology being used for the Rampal plant is far more modern and most environment friendly (than that of Barapukuria)," Azad said.

"We respect the concern of the people of Bangladesh, we are set to maintain the maximum environmental standards for the plant," BIFPCL managing director Ujjwal Kanti Bhattacharya said.

Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Bangladesh's power secretary Monowar Islam and his Indian counterpart Pradeep Kumar Pujari, Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) chairman M Shamsul Hasan Miah and BHEL's general manager Prem Pal Yadav also addressed the ceremony.

Bangladesh had fast tracked the project, which is also known as Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, which was started under a bilateral agreement signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's India visit in 2010.

Project highlights:

  • The Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL), the joint venture enterprise, signed the deal with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL);
  • BHEL was chosen under an open international tender for constructing the super thermal plant at Bangladesh's southwestern Rampal near the Sundarbans;
  • India's Exim Bank will provide $1.49 billion for the project;
  • The project is scheduled to start generating power in 2019.
  • The proposed project will be constructed on an area of over 1834 acres of land;
  • It is situated 14 kilometres north of the world's largest mangrove forest Sundarbans, which is a UNESCO world heritage site;
  • The project will be Bangladesh's largest power plant.