Rampal is returning to production, pigeons are not stopping

Bagerhat’s Rampal thermal power plant is going to be restarted after a month of shutdown due to coal crisis. The coal-fired power plant is expected to resume operation from next week. A ship of coal from Indonesia has already arrived in the country. On the other hand, the fear of the Payra thermal power plant in Patuakhali being closed due to the coal crisis has also ended for the time being.

The power department officials hope that the ongoing load shedding in the country will come to an end if Rampal is commissioned and Payara production is not stopped.

The Rampal power plant with two units of 1,320 MW capacity has been built with the joint investment of Bangladesh and India. After almost 10 years of the agreement, the center started supplying electricity commercially from the first unit of this power plant on December 23 last year. But due to lack of coal, production stopped from January 14. Complications arise with coal import mainly due to inability to open loan documents due to dollar crisis. At one stage the power plant was shut down due to lack of coal.

Rampal power plant is constructed and operated by Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL). A source of this company says that a ship from Indonesia arrived at Mongla port yesterday Thursday with 30 thousand tons of coal. Apart from this, another ship with 55 thousand tons of coal will arrive in the country on February 16.

Two responsible officials of Rampal power plant told Prothom Alo that it takes 5 thousand tons of coal per day to generate electricity from one unit of the power plant. According to that, six days of coal has arrived. The power plant will not be operational for only six days. So they are waiting for the next ship to arrive. The power plant is planned to be commissioned after the ship arrives at the port of the country.

BIFPCL managing director Syed Ekram Ullah told Prothom Alo yesterday that they are trying to start production quickly. They are hopeful that it will be launched next week.

According to Power Development Board (PDB) sources, oil-fired power plants are running less in the country. Gas-based power plants are also unable to operate at full speed. In the meantime, the Rampal power plant was suddenly shut down, causing a shortfall in power supply. Now loadshedding has to be done on an average for one hour every day. A maximum load shedding of 941 MW has been done across the country at eight o’clock yesterday morning.

PDB has to be informed before commissioning of any power plant. Then PDB coordinates it with the electricity generation schedule.

PDB Member (Production) SM Wazed Ali Sardar told Prothom Alo that Rampal power plant has announced that coal will come to the country. However, the center has not yet finalized when the electricity supply will start.

Rampal power station has two units of 660 MW capacity. The second unit is scheduled to be commissioned in April. Sources of Rampal power plant say that if the two units of the power plant are commissioned, 10,000 tons of coal will be required per day. At present they have a purchase order of 6 lakh tonnes of coal. A top business group of the country’s private sector has received an order for another 6 million tonnes of coal by participating in the newly called tender. They have been supplying coal to this center since the beginning. With 6 million tons of coal, electricity can be generated at the Rampal center for the next three years. These coals are being brought from Indonesia.

After the commissioning of the first unit, at least 450 megawatts of electricity was supplied to Dhaka daily from Rampal. Rampal informed the PDB about the dollar-crisis before the shutdown of the power plant. Then the power department informed Bangladesh Bank about the matter. Several meetings were held regarding this. After that, the central bank arranged to open the loan.

The Rampal power plant project was taken under the MoU signed between India and Bangladesh in 2010. BIFPCL was formed in 2012. In 2013, the company signed a power purchase agreement with PDB. Construction work was supposed to start in 2016, but it happened in 2017. The center was scheduled to go into commercial production in September 2020. But time and time again only delayed. Environmentalists have been objecting to the construction of this power plant near the Sundarbans since the beginning.