Uncertainty looms large over the timely execution of a slew of power transmission projects aimed at facilitating electricity evacuation from the upcoming 2,400 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP). The reason — the Indian financing agency is taking "excessive time" to give a go-ahead for the bidding process, UNB has learnt.
Official sources at Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) said the state-owned power transmission body took up the projects to facilitate power evacuation from RNPP, the country's maiden under-construction nuclear power project, with support from the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
Dhaka signed a $1.06 billion loan agreement with New Delhi in 2017 over financing of these projects, with a target to implement them within 2022, as the 1,200 MW first unit of RNPP aims at starting commercial production from the first half of 2023.
The five transmission projects are — the 464 km 400 kV Transmission Lines, including 13km river crossing, the 205 km 230 kV Transmission Lines, including 7 km river crossing, the 400 kV 5 Bay Extensions, the 230 kV 4 Bay Extensions, and qualitative upgradation of Bangladesh Power System for frequency control ,emergency control and related tasks.
Official sources said the 464 km 400 kV Transmission Lines project has been divided into four packages for easy and quick implementation. These are the 102 km Rooppur-Bogra line, the 144 km Rooppur-Gopalganj line, the 147 km Rooppur-Dhaka line, and the 51 km Aminbazar-Kaliakoir line.
The 13 km river crossing work also consists of packages — the 6 km Padma River crossing line and the 7 km Jamuna River crossing line. Similarly, the 230 kV Transmission Lines project is divided into three packages — the 60 km Rooppur-Baghabari line, the 145 km Rooppur-Dhamrai line, and the 7 km Jamuna River crossing line.
Official sources at PGCB said though they have completed the bidding process for some packages of the transmission projects, the remaining are stalled due to the delay in getting clearance from the Indian financing agency.
"Of these packages, the bidding for the most critical river crossing work and bay extensions are suffering due to India's bureaucratic red tape. The necessary approval from India Exim Bank is still awaited," said a top official of PGCB, who did not wish to be named.
He, however, said that timely commencement of operation of the RNPP project will depend on the timely implementation of the power transmission project. "If power transmission infrastructure is not ready, the Rooppur plant will not be able to start operation even after its timely completion," said the PGCB official.
When contacted, PGCB managing director Golam Kibria admitted the delay in the projects' bidding processes. "But I am hopeful of quick clearance from the Indian financing agency," he said.