Dhaka, Delhi sign controversial power deals

Dhaka and New Delhi on Saturday signed three agreements here to implement the proposed 1320-MW coal-fired power plant project in joint venture at Rampal, a location close to the Sundarbans.Indian National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) signed the deals—Implementation Agreement (IA), Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and Supplementary Joint Venture Agreement (SJVA).
Speaking at the signing ceremony at Bidyut Bhaban in the city, Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni termed the deal a historic one and outcome of the Prime Minister’s Sheikh Hasina initiative for sub-regional cooperation.
“Now, people of the region talk about cooperation instead of enmity as all regional leaders responded to the Prime Minister’s call,” she said.
She claimed that the power plant will be based on super critical technology with highest efficiency although the country’s local environment groups are vigorously opposing the move for coal-based power plant at a location close to the Sundarbans.
During a meeting with Power Ministry officials, all the country’s environment groups expressed grave concerns saying that the project would seriously destroy the ecology as well as flora and fauna of the country’s main mangrove forest.
The signing ceremony was also addressed by Prime Minister’s Advisor Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, State Minister for Power and Energy Mohammad Enamul Haque, Power Secretary Monwar Islam, Indian Power Secretary P Uma Shankar, Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran and NTPC Chairman Arup Roy Chowdhury.
Pankaj Saran said India is very exciting with the Rampal project as it will be the first project to be implemented by NTPC outside India. “Its technology will be one step ahead to address the environmental concerns,” he said.
The PDB and NTPC have already formed a special purpose company, ‘Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Ltd’, to implement the power plant project on 50:50 equity basis, which will cost approximately US$ 1.5 billion. The project’s lion portion of the fund will be arranged from lending agencies.
Earlier, Bangladesh and India signed a number of initial agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoUs). Both the neighbours agreed to take up such joint venture power plant projects during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s New Delhi visit in 2009.
Initially, both nations have planned to implement the project by 2013.
After a long exercise for about four years, they signed the final agreement to implement the mega project by 2018. UNB


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