The government is set to import an additional 1,496 megawatts of electricity from India. A new transmission line will be built in Chapainawabganj district for this purpose.
The 28-kilometer double circuit line stretching from Rohanpur to Shibganj in the district will be used in importing the power from Indian state of Jharkhand. Adani Power Limited will provide the supply.
In this regard, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council yesterday approved a project with an estimated cost of Tk225.49 crore. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting held at the National Economic Council conference room in the capital.
The meeting approved a total of eight projects involving a total cost estimated at Tk8,968 crore, Planning Minister MA Mannan told media after the meeting.
He said, of the total estimated cost, Tk8,952.59 crore will come from the government exchequer, while the rest Tk15.49 crore will be borne by the organisations concerned.
According to the recent data of the Bangladesh Power Development Board, the country's present electricity generation capacity stands at 19,057 megawatts, while the nationwide maximum demand is 13,000 megawatts.
Therefore, nearly 31-35 percent of the capacity remains unused. It goes up to 60 percent in the winter season as the demand for electricity falls drastically during that period.
Being asked to explain the economic feasibility of power import in a context when the country's power generation capacity exceeds the demand, the planning minister said Bangladesh may export power to India in future.
"The new transmission lines in border districts will be double circuit — which will enable us to export power to neighbouring country," defended the minister.
Bangladesh started importing electricity to meet a serious shortage of power in industries and households. "Now if we exceed our domestic demand, we will then export it in future as India requires more electricity," he explained.
Bangladesh has also been importing another 1,000 megawatts of electricity from India through the transmission line in Kushtia.
Another transmission line with a capacity of 500 megawatts is under construction in Cumilla district. The line has gone under partial operation recently, with an import of 200 megawatts.
In 2017-2018 fiscal year, the Power Development Board spent Tk2,812 crore for purchasing electricity from India.
Although the planning minister talked about power export, energy experts are skeptical about it.
According to their claim, power export would not be possible through other intercountry transmission lines except the Bheramara (Bangladesh)-Baharampur (India) cross-border power transmission link.
"There is no provision of export even through the feasible one," a high-official of the transmission link said wishing anonymity.
In the meantime, power division insiders said: "If Bangladesh wants to export, the existing contract will have to revised."
The latest project has been undertaken for importing power from the Indian state of Jharkhand, where Adani Power Limited is building a coal-based power plant with a combined capacity of 1,600 megawatts. The first unit of the plant will be completed by January 2022.
Earlier, in June 2015, Bangladesh Power Development Board and India's Adani Power inked an agreement to install some coal-based power plants with an overall capacity of generating 3,000 megawatts of electricity.
Other projects approved yesterday
The other seven projects approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council yesterday are: Mymensingh (Raghurampur)-Phulpur-Nakla-Sherpur regional highway development project with an estimated cost of Tk855.49 crore; upgrading pavement of the Bindur Mor-Biman Bandar-Naohata Bridge portion of Rajshahi-Naohata-Choumasia road involving a cost of Tk326.87 crore; widening Upashahor Mor-Sonadighi and Malopara Mor-Sagorpara Mor roads in Rajshahi city with Tk126.40 crore; Ashrayan-2 project with a cost of Tk4826.16 crore; research on prevention and control of zoonosis and transboundary animal diseases with a cost of Tk150.42 crore; strengthening monitoring and evaluation capabilities of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (SMECI) with Tk68.85 crore; and 100-bed cancer treatment institution in every divisional hospital with a cost of Tk2368 crore.