One of the Rampal power plant’s two units was inaugurated last month but it still requires some machinery to practically start running.
Moreover, a lack of synchronisation has led to the government incurring extra costs in the form of demurrage being paid to ships which have already arrived with coal but are having to await construction of the plant’s jetties.
The Maitree super thermal power project is being implemented by Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company, a 50:50 joint venture between Bangladesh Power Development Board and Indian government-owned electric utility company National Thermal Power Corporation.
It is located at Rampal in Bagerhat district, which is 14 kilometres north-west of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
The plant is approximately costing $2 billion, of which $1.6 billion is being sourced as Indian Development Assistance under a concessional financing scheme.
Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated one of the plant’s two units on September 6 during an official visit of the former to Delhi.
At that time, it was announced that the plant would start running on the first week of October.
“We have started trial…production capacity showed 160MW so technical setups are required to take the generation capacity of a single unit to the targeted 660MW,” said Sayeed Akram Ullah, managing director of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company last week.
“We are expecting it would take at least mid-November to go into commercial generation of power as it is not the type of work that can be completed overnight…it is a technical work related to technology,” he said.
Akram hopes for the second unit to start running in April next year.
Regarding the construction of the plant’s three jetties, he said one was complete.
The three will enable unloading 5,000 tonnes of coal in four hours, which is the amount of fuel the two units will need every day to produce 1,320MW of electricity, he said.
Sources informed that coal-laden ships were already at the site awaiting unloading and being paid demurrage.
Another issue was that draft of the Pasur river adjoining the plant was less than four metres, for which multiple lighters were needed instead of the mother ship coming right in.
This requires dredging, said Akram.
Subash Chandra Pandey, director of the project, did not provide any comment in this regard.