AT a time when the country is facing acute shortage of gas, the government has just approved the construction of a 400-megawatt gas-fired power project. Indeed, as reported by this newspaper, authorities are in the process of overhauling a 20-year old plant at a cost that is stated to be double its original cost. We are perplexed as to why nearly $300 million foreign exchange is being expended on a power plant which requires a power source that is in short supply. The other point of contention that has arisen is the awarding of a contract for overhauling a power unit in Ghorasal that is apparently costing the Power Development Board (PDB) $29.9 million, while the PDB has sought funds to the tune of $12.6 million for an apparently similar job on another plant.
Taking into consideration that no significant gas reserves have been discovered since Bibiyana, precisely how is the new plant to function at full capacity when it becomes operational? While renovation and overhauling of power plants are routine work, why must work on one project purportedly cost twice that of the other? Even if we were not to get into the nitty-gritty of which company was qualified or disqualified for providing authentic end-user certificates and other matters, the question here is whether or not such large investments in gas-fired plants is judicious.