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Timely execution of Rooppur power transmission projects looks uncertain

The timely execution of a number power transmission projects taken for electricity evacuation from the upcoming 2,400 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) looks uncertain as the Indian financing agency is taking ‘unusual’ time to give a go-ahead for the bidding process.

According to sources at Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB), the state-owned power transmission body took the projects to facilitate power evacuation from the RNPP, the country’s maiden under-construction nuclear power project being implemented with financial 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 those within 2022 as 1200 MW first unit of the Rooppur NPP will start commercial production from the first half of 2023.

The five transmission projects are: 464-km 400kV Transmission Lines including 13-km river crossing, 205-km 230kV Transmission Lines including 7-km river crossing, 400kV 5 Bay Extensions, 230kV 4 Bay Extensions and qualitative upgradation of Bangladesh power system for frequency control and frequency drop protection, protection system, emergency control system and other associated tasks.

The sources said the 464-km 400kV transmission line project has been divided into four segments for their smooth implementation.

These are 102-km Rooppur-Bogra line, 144-km Rooppur-Gopalganj line, 147-km Rooppur-Dhaka line and 51-km Aminbazar-Kaliakoir line.

The 13-km river crossing works have also been divided into two segments — 6-km Padma River crossing line and 7-km Jamuna River crossing line.

Similarly, the 230-kV transmission line project was also divided into three packages— 60-km Rooppur-Baghabari line, 145-km Rooppur-Dhamrai line, and 7-km Jamuna River crossing line.

PGCB officials said although they have completed the bidding process for some packages of the projects, the bidding process of some other segments still remained stuck due to delay in having clearance from the Indian financing agency.

“Of these segments, the bidding for most critical river crossing works and bay extensions are suffering from Indian lengthy bureaucratic tangle in getting the necessary approval from the India Exim Bank,” a PGCB top official told, wishing anonymity.

He, however, said the timely start of operation of the Rooppur NPP project will depend on the timely implementation of the power transmission projects.

“If power transmission infrastructures and facilities are not ready, the Rooppur plant will not be able to start operation even after its timely completion of the nuclear power project,” the PGCB official added.

Contacted, PGCB managing director Golam Kibria admitted the delay in the projects’ bidding procedures, but said he is hopeful of quick clearance from the Indian financing agency.