Bheramara (Kushtia): Mentioning that a certain quarter is out to create confusion among people raising voice against the Rampal thermal power plant, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday assured that her government would not do anything that would harm the Sundarbans as well as the environment and ecology of the country.
“I would like to tell those who are out to confuse people through their campaign against the Rampal plant…I want to say that there would be no harm to the Sundarbans and the government of Sheikh Hasina would not do anything that would harm the country,” she said taking a swipe at those who held a long march protesting the Rampal coal-fired power plant.
The Prime Minister was addressing a function after jointly inaugurating along with the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh through a videoconferencing the Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre and foundation stone-laying of Maitree Super Thermal Power Project (Rampal 1320 MW coal based power plant).
Hasina also unveiled the plaque of foundation stone of 360MW combined cycle power plant.
Indian Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu, PM’s Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, State Minister for Energy, Power and Mineral Resources Brig Gen (retd) Enamul Haque, Parliamentary standing committee chairman on Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Maj Gen (retd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan, PM’s Special Assistant Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif, Indian Power Secretary PK Sinha, ERD Secretary and chairman of PGCB Abul Kalam Azad, ADB vice president Davis Bruce, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran, among others, on the occasion.
Power Division Secretary Monowar Islam delivered the address of welcome. A video footage on Bangladesh’s power situation was displayed.
Hasina said many people these days have turned to be environmentalists. “But, it’s my government that has taken initiatives to include the Sundarbans in the World Heritage Site list. We’ve undertaken a massive tree plantation drive in the country along with creating green belts along the coastal areas of Bangladesh.”
She said that her government has already implemented coal-based power plant at Boropukuria in Dinajpur and there has been no such harm to people, tress and crops in the area.
“Could they (environmentalists) found any extent of damage to local people, tress and crops to the project area in Boropukuria? No, they couldn’t as they has been no such harm…..so there’s a need for looking into what is the motive of their protest?” she added.
The Prime Minister said her government also taken up programmes to expand the country’s forest coverage and offset the impacts of climate change apart from constituting Climate Change Fund and Climate Resilience Fund.
“We’ve taken maximum measures so that Rampal power project doesn’t cast any adverse impact on the Sundarbans. High quality coal and latest technology will be used to minimise the air and water pollution,” Hasina added.
The Prime Minister said electricity is the prime mover of all socioeconomic development as adequate and reliable supply of power is an important pre-requisite to attracting both domestic and foreign investments.
“Considering the necessity of electricity, we’ve undertaken initiatives to increase power generation along with electricity import from neighboring countries through regional grid inter connection,” she said.
As part of this programme, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bangladesh and India on 11 January 2010.
As part of this MoU, Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre has been constructed at Bheramara under a project. The formal journey of Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre began today. The inauguration of this project will usher in a new horizon in regional power trade.
Under the project, construction of 74-KM line in India and 27.35 KM line, including a 400 KV HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) grid substation in Bangladesh has been completed.
Hasina said 500MW power will be imported from India through this substation while arrangement for expansion of the capacity of this grid substation up to 1000 MW has been kept. “If both countries agree, it could be possible to import 1000 MW electricity in the future.”
This is for the first time HVDC grid sub-station has been built in Bangladesh, the premier said hoping that it will contribute significantly towards enhancing the capacity of power sector engineers.
Sheikh Hasina said that the present government is also in negotiations to import electricity from Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan.
She said as trusted friends, the people of Bangladesh, would never forget the cooperation extended and sacrifice made by Indian government and its people during its Liberation War.
The Prime Minister said as a long-term plan, her government has taken up a master plan to produce 20,000 megawatt electricity by 2021. During the last four and a half years, the present government has commissioned 57 power plants having a capacity of 4,432 megawatt at public and private initiatives.
Hasina informed that three more power plants with a capacity of 6,569 megawatt are under construction while tenders are being floated for 19 power plants with a capacity of 3974 megawatt. Preliminary works are underway to set up nine more power plants having a capacity of 3,542 megawatt.
She said that remarkable improvement has been made in distribution system while the revenue income increased through reducing the system loss.
The Prime Minister also noted that the commissioning of Nuclear Power Plant at Rooppur under Ishwardi in Pabna would be a milestone in Bangladesh’s history of power generation as only 27 countries in the world have such capacity as of now.
She said her government has already undertaken programmes to set up 13 coal-based power plants. “China and Malaysia will set up two more big coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh.”
The Prime Minister also expressed her firm resolve to build a poverty- and hunger-free modern non-communal middle-income Bangladesh by the year 2021 when the Golden Jubilee of the Independence will be celebrated.
Indian Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah facilitated the government of Bangladesh as well as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for materializing the project.
As Durga Puja and Eid-ul-Azha get close, the Indian Minister conveyed felicitation to the people of Bangladesh on behalf of the Indian president and Prime Minister hoping, “These two occasions would help unite us further.”
Abdullah Farooque also expressed his optimism that India-Bangladesh friendship would grow to a much greater height in the future.