Ishwardi (Pabna): Bangladesh moved one step ahead towards nuclear power generation as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unveiled the foundation of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (1st Phase) project here on Wednesday.
“It’s my belief that the Russian Federation would follow international standards in every stage of Rooppur NPP implementation and also provide Bangladesh with a technology that would operate safely and effectively under any climatic condition,” she said at a function after unveiling the foundation stone of the project.
Former Prime Minister of Russia and Director General of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Commission (ROSATOM) Sergey Kirienko, Planning Minister AK Khandker, State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque Tuku, chairman of parliamentary standing committee on Science & Technology Ministry Alhaj Dabirul Islam, Shamsur Rahman Sharif, MP, Head of department of technical cooperation of IAEA Oscar Acquina and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Research Center Director General Mahmudul Hasan also spoke on the occasion.
The function, chaired by State Minister for Science and Technology Architect Yeafesh Osman, was organised jointly by Ministry of Science and Technology and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC).
Science and Technology Secretary Rafiqul Islam gave the address of welcome while BAEC chairman Abu Sayed Mohammad Firoz gave the vote of thanks.
Under an agreement with the Bangladesh government, ROSATOM will construct two units of the Rooppur NPP, each 1,000 MW capacity, at a cost of $1.5 to $2 billion.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place two years after Bangladesh signed a landmark deal with Russia on November 2, 2011 finalizing arrangements to install the country's first-ever nuclear power plant to produce 2,000 megawatt of electricity at Rooppur in northern Pabna district.
Dhaka signed a crucial framework agreement with Moscow to this effect on 21 May 2010.
Earlier, on 13 May 2009, a MoU on cooperation of peaceful use of nuclear energy was signed between Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and ROSATOM.
An agreement of $ 500 million state export credit by the Russian Federation for the preparatory stage of the construction of Rooppur NPP and an MoU on the state export credit for the construction of second stage of Rooppur NPP were inked during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Russia on January 15 last.
The ECNEC approved the establishment of the Rooppur NPP (1st phase) Project on April 2 this year.
The project cost for the first phase work is Tk 5087 crore 8 lakh and 81 thousand. Of the amount, Bangladesh government will provide Tk 1087 crore 8 lakh and 81 thousand, while the Russian government will give Tk 4000 crore under state export credit.
Addressing the function, Hasina said that during bilateral consultation, she had requested the President of Russian Federation for consideration of an innovative friendly approach in constructing Rooppur NPP with the safest reactor design, which could be capable of tolerating any severe man-made or natural events, namely seismic events, tsunami, flooding and other natural events and generate electricity in a safe, secured and economic manner in the reactor’s life time.
“The Russian President assured me of providing the latest and safest nuclear technology for Rooppur NPP,” she said.
The Prime Minister said that her government is happy and satisfied with the assurance of the Russian government for cooperation in the establishment of an appropriate nuclear power infrastructure of Bangladesh along with the development of manpower for operation and maintenance of Rooppur NPP as well as management of radioactive waste and taking spent fuel back to the Russian Federation.
Mentioning that safety is the topmost priority for the Rooppur NPP project, she said that for embarking on a nuclear power program, her government has given priority to the issues of the development of an appropriate nuclear infrastructure based on the IAEA Safety Standards and other relevant guidance as well as international good practices.
Hasina said her government has enacted Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Act-2012 to strengthen national nuclear regulatory infrastructure to ensure safe and secured applications to nuclear techniques and building the country’s first nuclear power plant - Rooppur NPP.
She said an independent nuclear regulatory authority called Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority has already been formed and bilateral relationship with the nuclear regulatory body of Russian Federation as well as the IAEA has been established for the capacity building of the country’s national nuclear regulatory authority.
“Our nuclear energy program is very transparent. The country has signed all the major international treaties, agreements and protocols related to the nuclear non-proliferation.”
The Prime Minister said a plan was undertaken to set up a nuclear power plant at Rooppur during 1960s before the country’s independence and a number of establishments were set up along with requisition of land. But, the project did not see the light as the Pakistani authorities shifted its site to West Pakistan.
“After the independence, Bangabandhu’s government undertook programs to set up the Nuclear Power Plant. But, he was assassinated along with most of his family members before the project made much headway.”
After the assassination of Bangabandhu, she said the subsequent governments did not take any step to install the Nuclear Power Plant.
Hasina said that after assuming office in 1996, her government first took measures to set up the nuclear plant.
Since establishment of nuclear power plant is a complex process and it goes through a lot of international rules and regulations, she said that in her previous term nuclear power generation programme was included in its energy policy of 1996.
“We sought cooperation of IAEA for commissioning the Rooppur nuclear power plant. A time-bound plan has also been worked out with the help of IAEA. But, before completing the entire process, our tenure ended.” The Prime Minister alleged that unfortunately, the subsequent BNP-Jamaat government did not take any initiative to continue the project. After assuming office this time, she said her government undertook the programme again and Russian Federation came forward to help implement the project.
Hasina said her government has taken up a master plan to produce 20,000 megawatt of electricity by 2021. Today, the master plan is not confined in paper works only; rather significant progress has been made towards implementing the program during the last four and a half years.
“The electricity production capacity has been elevated to 9,713 megawatt, double the quantity we got while assuming office. We have proved that we believe in action, not in words,” she added.
Speaking on the occasion, ROSATOM Director General Sergey Kirienko said this nuclear power plant in Rooppur would contribute to the development of the country and it would resist extreme natural disasters like earthquake and tsunami.
Assuring that highest international standards would be followed in the implementation of the project, Kirienko said this nuke power plant project would make great contribution towards the country’s economy with the cheap and sustainable sources of electricity apart from creating employment opportunities.
Foundation stone of Rooppur NPP unveiled