Amid public criticism against the 1320 megawatt Rampal Coal Power Project, the Indo-Bangla friendship power company has nearly completed its financial arrangement to start the construction work from late September.
“The project will be completed within 41 months after the financial closure,” said Uzzal Bhattacharya, managing director of India-Bangladesh Friendship Power Company that is equally owned by National Thermal Power Company (NTPC) of India and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).
Uzzal added that the company targets partial operation by December 2019. An Indian company, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), is constructing the plant under engineering supervision of German consultant Fichtner.
The Daily Star talked to the chief of the friendship company and some high officials of the power ministry on the project's financing and its environmental aspects.
Power ministry officials requesting anonymity said that Indian Exim Bank is providing US $1.6 billion loan at an interest rate of 1 percent (plus Libor) for 20 years, with a seven year grace period. This low interest rate was provided because the Bangladesh government has given the bank its sovereign guarantee.
The NTPC and the BPDB would invest another $400 million for land development, transportation, housing, CSR and other infrastructures. In total, the cost of the project stands at around $2 billion. In contrast, the Japanese funded 1200 mw Matarbari coal power project plus a deep sea coal port costs $4.5 billion.
The project includes residential and social facilities, water treatment plant, power sub-station, jetty, coal handling system and coal silo, ash handling and disposal facilities, and switchyard including substation.
The project area spreads over 1834 acres of land, all of which has been acquired.
The government has decided, for every kilowatt power sales from this plant, the Rampal locality will get Tk 0.03. This roughly totals Tk 27 crore or more a year. This fund will be used for building roads, hospitals and other infrastructure at Rampal.
The government believes that the plant in the region would provide jobs and therefore reduce people's reliance on the forest for survival. In the long run this will help the survival of the Sundarbans.