Amid strong opposition from different quarters including environmental activists, a top official Wednesday announced the foundation stone of the controversial project would be laid on October 22.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, made the announcement when a large group of activists, who started a long march Tuesday to drum up support against the project, were on their way to the Rampal project site, which is only 14 kilometres off the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.
The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports organised the long march.
Addressing a press conference at Bidyut Bhaban, the energy adviser said India will test supply 250 megawatt power to Bangladesh from Thursday while the final supply will begin on October 5.
On April 20, the government inked a deal with India’s state-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to set up a 1,320MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat.
Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and NTPC will implement the $1.5 billion project on a 50-50 equity basis.
Of the total project cost, 70 percent will be arranged through loans and the rest 30 percent will be shared equally by BPDB and NTPC.
The plant, to be set up on 1,834 acres, is expected to add electricity to the national grid by 2018, with the cost of per unit electricity produced ranging between Tk 5 and Tk 7.
Earlier, on January 29 last year, Dhaka and New Delhi signed a joint venture agreement to set up Bangladesh’s biggest power plant at Rampal.