A workforce of more than 6,000 people is working relentlessly for timely completion of the 1,320MW Rampal coal-fired power station, defying the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Engr. Animesh Jain, Managing Director of Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company, sheds light on the progress and environmental aspects of the much-talked-about coal-fired plant in Rampal.The Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant, popularly known as Rampal plant, is one of the fast track and mega power projects taken up by the Awami League government through a joint-venture initiative between Bangladeshi and India.
The project name as ‘Maitree’ that reflects the testimony of friendship between two great nations —Bangladesh and India. The relationship between India is anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities.
The power plant is expected to come into electricity generation by early 2022, said Engr. Animesh Jain, the newly appointed managing director of Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL) —the implementing agency of the mega project.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun Business Editor Md Shamim Jahangir, BIFPCL managing director Engr. Animesh Jain shared different aspects of the Rampal project and shed light on the project’s technical efficiency and its vision for environmental protection.
DS: Tell us about the progress of the power plant
The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project is expected to start electricity generation from early January 2022 as the construction work of the project has resumed with a workforce of 6,000 people after five months of force closure amid the COVID-19 outbreak.The construction work at the project has been affected by the pandemic. However, since September, the project works resumed on all fronts and we are gathering pace very rapidly. Necessary steps are being taken to deploy additional workers to speed up the work further.
The BIFPCL is working to start electricity generation from the plant in January 2022 though six months have already been lost to the coronavirus crisis.
This project with an investment of $2 billion is as one of the fast-track projects by Bangladesh. We are currently at the advanced stage of construction.
In the difficult time of Covid-19 crisis, the project is providing employment opportunities to more than 5000 Bangladeshi workers from all over the country.
Apart from employments, the local workers are getting learning opportunities and skill up-gradation facilities with the help of more experienced employees and experts.
DS: What the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic means for this mega project?
Yes, six months have been lost due to the coronavirus crisis. We have to face other challenges too, particularly for the project site being located near a river, which makes civil construction work more complicated than it already is. Nonetheless, we are committed to producing clean energy with the government’s support and we have certain action plans to recover the delays we faced.
There are some associated projects but this power project will start as soon as possible as the power needs to be evacuated.
Also, there are certain challenges in terms of the evacuation of power. There have been delays and more challenges are also associated which increased the risks of delay.
DS: Do you think there will be any delay in evacuating the power project?
We have two units of power generation facility and we have an action plan in place which is we have phased the evacuation. But we are optimistic but we have a contingency plan as well to manage risks as efficiently as possible.
DS: When the plant will start generating electricity?
At the moment, we are hoping that the plant will commence power generation at the beginning of 2022. However, if the recovery is faster, we can start even sooner.
DS: What is your opinion about the environmental concerns being raised over the implementation of this coal-fired power plant near the Sundarbans?
I want to reassure everyone by mentioning that this power plant consists of three key features: environment-friendly, clean energy and high efficiency.
These sums up the intention of building this power plant. The contingency plan we have is committed to maintaining all the rules for building an environment-friendly power plant. As of now, more than 150,000 trees have been planted under the project and the trees have survived in the saline condition. This is important.
This would be definitely environment friendly because the kind of technology we are using, the kind of plan we have and the kind of chimney we are building. We are committed to building such a plant for the nation so that it can thrive in clean energy production.
As per our action plan, we would say that this power plant will remain environment friendly throughout the building and operating the power plant.
DS: Bangladesh and India earlier agreed to build similar joint-venture power plants in India. Is there any progress in this discussion?
There is a proposal regarding a solar power plant project. In several meetings, it was mentioned that the way the electricity demand is growing in Bangladesh, the demand will soon outpace the capacity. So I think this a strategic and commercial decision that the government would take. We are ready if Bangladesh is looking forward to building a solar power plant in India. We can do it for them.
DS: Is the power plant has been proposed to be set up in Bangladesh or in India?
There was a proposal. With the ongoing situation, we would rethink the whole plan. So at the moment, it is still at the discussion level.
DS: It has been said that Rampal power plant would be costlier. Can you give us an estimate of the power generation cost at Rampal power plant?
Well, the cost depends on imported coal or the rate of imported coal. The good news is coal cost is coming down. The post-Covid-19 impact will also determine the price of coal as well as oil. However, there will be some challenges in bringing the coal. But there is a tier for the coal contract. So it all depends on the raw materials price and other aspects as well. For instance, if the tier increases the tariff will also go up. But the cost may not be that high.