Raising allegations of conflict of interest, a group of 50 civil society organisations and climate movement platforms across the world have urged the government not to consider Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) as the consultant for the next review of the Power System Master Plan (PSMP).
In this regard, a letter signed by the organisations was sent to the Planning Minister MA Mannan, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid, and Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forest and Climate Change Saber Hossain Chowdhury, on Thursday morning via email.
The signatories of the letter argued that Tepco has a serious conflict of interest over the power and energy sector in Bangladesh, because of which it is not qualified to be a consultant of the next PSMP.
They also demanded cancellation of all future coal projects that are in the pipeline and setting a target of 100 percent renewables by 2050 in the next PSMP.
Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) President Shinichi Kitaoka, and Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa were also among the recipients of the letter.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), Campaign for Good Governance (Supro), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), Land and Nature Safeguard Platform (LNSP), and Nagorik Sanghati are among the signatories from Bangladesh.
Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (Jacses), Friends of Earth Japan, Urgewald Germany, Oil Change International US, International Accountability Project (IAP) US, Growthwatch India, NGO Forum on ADB are among the international signatories of the letter.
Tepco was the consultant of the PSMP 2010 and the revised PSMP in 2016.
After the formulation of the PSMP 2010, Tepco started working as environmental impact assessment (EIA) and engineering consultant for the Matarbari 1,200MW coal-fired power project and the Anowara-Matarbari 400 kV transmission line project.
Tepco is also a front-runner candidate as EIA and engineering consultant for the Matarbari Kohelia coal power project.
Tepco admitted that the national power demand projection stipulated in PSMP 2010 was impractical, therefore, was changed accordingly in 2016.
However, the revised projection is still too high, according to experts in the sector.
"Tepco cannot be involved in both power policy formulation and the project implementation process. It is clearly a conflict of interest between its position as a policymaker and implementer", said Hasan Mehedi, member secretary of the Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt.
The signatories also argued that the price of renewables has been consistently plummeting since the last decade.
However, Tepco estimated only 10 percent power generation from renewables by 2030 in the PSMP 2010, 7 percent by 2041 in PSMP 2016 and only 3.8 percent by 2041 in the revised PSMP 2016.
Hence, it is clear that options of renewable sources were intentionally ignored by Tepco and forced the PSMP to reflect on excessive dependency on fossil fuels, especially coal and Liquefied natural gas in order to further its business in Bangladesh, opined the civil society organisations.