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18 May, 2017 11:49:17 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 May, 2017 08:22:53 AM

Red tape trips govt plan

surplus power generation before polls
Red tape trips govt plan

The Sheikh Hasina government would miss out on its plan to take credit for surplus power generation before the next general election scheduled for early 2019. And the blame would lay with the Power Division, which has taken over five months to finalise the selection of the lowest bidders for 10 power plants with a total capacity of 1000MW.
Following the opening of the tenders six months ago, seven companies have finally received letters of intent (LOI) to start the projects.
“We have issued seven LOI to the lowest bidders so that they can move forward with the work," Mina Masud-Uzzaman , secretary of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), told The Independent.
But the issue of LOI is not enough. “The actual countdown will start after the selected bidders sign power buy-sale agreements with the BPDB and that time period would be around 18 months as the law ministry would take two to three months to vet the agreements. Therefore, it won’t be easy to generate the projected power surplus before the next election,” a Power Division official said on condition of anonymity.
“The government wanted to showcase surplus power generation to the voters prior to the 2019 polls. In order to achieve the target, the Power Division had approved the setting up of 10 private power plants at 10 different locations, which were not earmarked in the original power system master plan (PSMP),” a BPDB official said.
In accordance with the Power Division’s instructions, the BPDB had called for tenders in September 2016 for installing 10 furnace oil-run power plants to generate a total of 1,000 MW of electricity.
“The tenders were called in public interest and we hope that the generation will be added to the national grid in time,” BPDB spokesperson Saiful Alam Chawdhury said yesterday.
The tenders were opened on November 5, 2016. Out of the 10 proposed power plants, the Cabinet Committee on Purchase had approved the power selling price of seven projects on April 5 this year. These include a 113-MW plant in Rangpur, a 115-MW plant in Thakurgaon, a 113-MW plant in Bogra, a 115-MW plant in Chandpur, a 104-MW in Narayanganj, a 113-MW plant in Noakhali, and a 114-MW plant in Feni.
The other three proposals are waiting for a final approval from the Power Division, an official said. “After opening the tender documents on November 5, 2016, we had sent the related documents to the power ministry for final approval. But the power division kept the documents for the last six months, which delayed the projects,” an official said.
Sources said the approvals for the project were not easy to come by, and a national intelligence agency had to secretly collect the business details of the lowest bidders before sending the proposals to the Cabinet Division. This week, seven bidders finally received the LOI. But the proposal submitted by Energies, the bidder for Bagerhat and Santaher projects, was not approved by the Power Division, as the government higher ups did not give the green signal to the ministry.
The single bidder, United Enterprise, for Mymensing area project has been in talks with the inter-negotiation committee headed by the secretary of the Power Division. As per the PSMP, the power demand in 2018 will be 12,000MW, which will rise to 13,500MW in 2019. Currently, the BPDB supplies 9200MW of power to the consumers.
A BPDB official said the government could face a tough time due to the increased power demand before the election. This could cast a shadow on the government’s poll prospects, he added.
But the government has laid down plans to tackle the situation. “During that time, Bangladesh will import 500-600MW power from India. More than 2,500MW of power could be generated in 2019 by the private sector as well,” said a BPDB engineer. “Moreover, the BPDB is building three gas-based power plants at Bibiyana (400MW), Shiddirgonj (335 MW) and Shirajgonj (450MW). If the plants come into generation in time, the demand will be met,” he added.
In the first quarter of 2018, imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be added to the national grid and the amount will be 500 mmcf per day. If the government allows to use 200mmcf gas per day for the BPDB, the power generation will increase by 1,000MW. “But the country’s business houses are expecting gas for the past four years. The country is in a deep crisis over gas as no new big gas field has been discovered for the past 17 years,” a BPDB official said.




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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