Is Rampal Project really worth it?
Tarannum Haider Maliha
The Rampal Power Plant project in one of the most discussed topic in Bangladesh as well as around the world. Those who don’t even have any idea what it is have also heard the name of Rampal Power Plant.
What is Rampal Power Plant?
It is a dream of building the country’s largest power plant on over 1834 acres of land in Rampal Upazila of Bagerhat District in Khulna 14 kilometres north from the world’s largest mangrove forest. This proposed 1320 MW coal-fired power station is a joint venture of India’s state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board. In August 2010, India and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding and decided to implement the project by 2016.
Since 2010, Rampal Project has generated numerous concerns, questions, criticism and suggestions. Some are stating this project as a suicide and there are some actual fact backing up such statement.
The government has a vision to make Bangladesh a middle- income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. To attain this target one of the requirements is to increase power generation up to 24000 MW by the year 2021 and to 60000 MW by the year 2041. Bangladesh right now produces 62.38% of its total electricity from natural gas. But it’ not a renewable resource and so as oil. So, the government has decided to use coal as a fuel as it is cost effective as well as easily available.
Now, the government has outlined how they would finance the project. 70% would be financed by foreign loans, 15% would be financed Bangladesh’s PDB and the rest 15% would be financed by India’s NTPC. Only Bangladesh will pay the interest of the loan brought from foreign banks. But the profit would be divided 50-50 between India and Bangladesh. And if there’s any loss, Bangladesh will be responsible for that.
Moreover, the government will buy per unit of electricity from Rampal at 8.85 taka which is more than double than the rate government now has agreed pay to the local power plants per unit. To be precise, the government would pay 4 taka per unit to Munshiganj Mawa Power Plant and Khulna Lobonchora Power Plant and 3.80 per unit to Chittagong Anowara Power Plant.
But how would the government supply the huge amount of coal for country’s largest power plant? The government has already signed a deal with India to import coal at 145 dollar per ton and more than 13000 ton will be needed everyday to generate the required amount of electricity. Whereas the maximum cost of coal per ton in the global market is 50-80 dollar.The estimated cost of the project is $1.68 billion. Experts say, if the plant generates 20 hours everyday for 30 years and has a loss of 4.85 taka per unit only then the cost could be $1.68 billion.
So, overlooking the environmental and long lasting effect and considering only these basic and realistic facts we is enough to decide that if Rampal Power Plant Project is worthy of such risk or not.