TK 11,000cr JICA fund for Matarbari power plant

Japan, one of Bangladesh’s largest development partners, has finally signed an agreement to provide more TK 11,000 crore as loan under 40th package for Matarbari 1,200MW thermal power plant, softening its earlier position. In this regard an exchange note and loan agreement have been signed on Saturday at the National Economic Council (NEC) conference room of Sher –e-Bangla Nagar in the capital.

ERD secretary Monowar Ahmed and Japan Ambassador to Bangladesh Heroyuchu Ezumi and JICA chief representative Hitoshi Hirata signed the agreement.
The Asian economic giant did not confirm the funding during the Prime Minister's recent visit to Tokyo, officials said. The officials said the JICA declined to sign the loan deal in Tokyo for constructing the coal-fired Matarbari power plant on the grounds of possible environmental impacts.

During the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from May 28-June 2, the JICA signed $1.2 billion loan deals for four other projects under its 40th Official Development Assistance (ODA) package. An official said, "JICA did not sign the loan for Matarbari power plant as its law is very much strict about environmental protection. Japan is such a country that it will not support or facilitate any coal-fired power station and sign such deals in its territory.”

Earlier, JICA concluded negotiations with Bangladesh on providing $2.5 billion in assistance for implementing five development projects, including the coal plant.Bangladesh will have to repay the loan at 0.95 per cent rate in 30 years in which the first 10 years will be considered the grace period. Matarbari of Cox’s Bazar, an unknown remote island in the Bay of Bengal, is now a widely known name in Bangladesh, and is set to emerge as the beacon in the energy landscape of the country.

Construction of the Matarbari coal-fired power plant with a capacity of producing 1200 megawatts of electricity at Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar is going on in full swing. So far, the power plant has made around 25 percent physical progress.State-owned Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) is implementing the project at a cost of Tk 35,984 crore, of which Tk 7,045 crore is coming from the government exchequer and CPGCBL fund, while the remaining Tk 28,939 crore is coming as project assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

CPGCL is optimistic that the first and second units of the powerplant, each with a 600MW production capacity, would go into commercial operation by January 2024 and July 2024 respectively. CPGCBL Managing Director Golam Kibria told Bangladesh Post, “We are now 4 percent ahead of our targeted work. If everything goes well, the project will be completed within the stipulated timeframe.”

“Implementation of this project will minimize demand-supply gap of electricity, create employment opportunity and develop skilled manpower through transfer of modern technology,” he continued. “According to the plan, the land should be ready for piling by 2020 and the main construction work of the power plant will start in the same year,” the CPGCBL official said. This project comprises construction of jetty and coal handling facilities for coal import, coal storage, power plant construction, township development, rural electrification, construction of transmission facilities and road communication. Thousands of local and foreign people are working day and night there.

Since the power plant will apply ultra-super critical technology, the use of coal will decline and the emission of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide will be of low scale. Instead, it will be easier to separate sulphur by using flue gas desulfurization (FDG). The chimney will used to emit exhaust gas of the power plant.