Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has expressed serious concern over the ‘significant delay’ in payment of compensation to the people affected due to the under-construction 1200MW Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-fired power project in Cox’s Bazar.
The delay in compensation payment to the Project-Affected Persons (PAP) concerns us very much, Hitoshi Hirata, chief representative of JICA Bangladesh Office, said in a letter to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).“We observed that only 55.12 percent payment to 1,287 people out of 2,334 affected has been made,” the letter read.
“In order to fulfill your promise, it requires that at least 80 percent payment needs to be done by the next March,” Hitoshi Hirata said in the letter.
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the country’s fast-track project on August 12, 2014 with an implementation period of 10 years from July 2014 to June 2024 at a total cost of Tk35,984 crore.
JICA will provide Tk28,939.03 crore of the total cost of the project as ODA loans in different phases.
According to the general terms and conditions of the loan, the borrower has not breached any provision of the loan agreement and there is no threat that such breach may occur on or after the relevant disbursement.
The letter also said the borrower shall cause the executing agency to ensure that the resettlement action plans….are fully implemented to the satisfaction of JICA. “In accordance with these provisions, the delay in payment to the affected people can be considered a breach of the loan agreement and we may be forced to suspend the disbursement,” the JICA top official said.In a meeting with state minister for power and energy Nasrul Hamid on January 28, 2020, the JICA visiting vice-president also expressed concern over the delay in the compensation payment to the affected people.
Then Nasrul Hamid assured JICA of forming a special committee to address the issue.
Talking over the issue, power division secretary Dr Sultan Ahmed said, “I have talked to Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd to address the matter.”
The Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd is now seeking to implement another two units of coal-fired power projects with JICA loan, official sources said.
During the visit of JICA’s vice-president in Matarbari coal project last month, the government officials again explained that the current projects being implemented in the coastal area with port facilities is uncommon to normal power projects.
Moreover, as per the JICA preliminary study report, provision of some common facilities has been kept for unit-3 and unit-4.
“As a result, in comparison with other coal-based power plant projects of similar capacity, electricity tariff for under construction unit-1 and unit-2 is almost double,” the power division official told the visiting JICA vice-president.