There has been 20 percent progress in the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant which is being built in Rooppur, says the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), the project implementing agency.
BAEC officials said they expect the project to be completed on time.
The first and second units of the nuclear plant, each having 1,200 megawatts of power generation capacity, are expected to go into commercial operation by 2024 and 2025 respectively.
"As of November 30, 20 percent of the work has been completed where the civil construction is the maximum," said Project Director of RNPP Dr Md Shawkat Akbar.
Generally, the progress of a nuclear power plant project is not measured in the way that conventional power plants are measured.
The S-shaped curve is the method used to measure the progress of a nuclear power plant where the progress along the horizontal line is lower than that along the vertical line, said Shawkat Akbar.
He said the major equipment supply will start from next year. Then the physical progress on the plant will be significantly more visible.
The country is implementing its first nuclear power plant project titled 'Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project' in Rooppur, on the east side of the Padma River near Ishwardi in Pabna.
The housing for the reactor of unit-1 is already more than 20 metres high. It will be raised to 40 metres, and the reactor pressure vessel will be installed next year.
"The construction and the manufacturing of all other equipment is going on concurrently," he said.
High officials at Atomstroyexport, the main contractor of the Rooppur project, are also committed to finishing the project in the scheduled timeframe.
Both units will be completed in time as elaborated under the contract, the senior vice-president of Atomstroyexport said. He added that, "We are now working on the nuclear and turbine islands of unit-1 and unit-2 of the plant."
Creation of skilled manpower can be the main challenge
The generation of skilled manpower can be the main challenges to operate this highly technical project because the country doesn't have experienced and skilled engineers in such a field.
Therefore, when the plant goes into operation, Bangladesh has to depend on Russian engineers for the first few years, said the officials of the project.
Nuclear power projects have not had smooth going in this sub-continent.
There have been strong protests in India against the nuclear power plant projects in Tamil Nadu and in Rajasthan.
Pakistan has also been facing protests against its nuclear project in Karachi which is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
However, the Rooppur project has been going on unchallenged.
As the construction progresses, the creation of skilled manpower is becoming very challenging.
There is also the possibility that the International Atomic Energy Agency will not give Bangladesh a licence to operate the nuclear power plant if the required skilled manpower is not prepared in time.
At least 1,600 trained engineers will be required to operate the two units of the Rooppur project.
Admitting the challenge, the project implementing company said they are working seriously on the issue.
"Skilled manpower for the operation of the nuclear power plant is essential," said Md Anwar Hossain, secretary to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
He said the nuclear company has already started training the required manpower to operate the plant.
"We have already sent 270 engineers to the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, Russia to train them on nuclear technology, and 50 of them have already come back after successfully completing the training," said Dr Md Shawkat Akbar, the project director of the power plant.
He said another 300 employees will be sent next year. The process will continue till 2022 to prepare the required skilled workforce.