N-power project: Dhaka, Moscow yet to decide mode of operation

Manjurul Ahsan

Bangladesh and Russia are yet to decide which side should start the preliminary work on the Rooppur nuclear power project though an initial agreement is likely to be signed in June.
The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom are trying to shift responsibilities for initiating the project work onto each other, officials said.
Earlier, on January 15, Dhaka and Moscow signed a $500 million deal to conduct preliminary studies. The authorities estimated that the studies would cost Tk 5,087 crore in four years.
The Bangladesh government will invest Tk 1,087 crore in the Tk 5,087 crore project to conduct preliminary studies which includes feasibility studies, environment impact assessment, investment assessment, setting up of an information centre and human resources development.
But neither side knows how the project work would start.
When asked how the $500m would be spent, Rosatom’s director of communication department Sergey G Novikov on Wednesday told New Age that the Bangladesh authorities would decide the matter.
Rosatom will only oversee the activities whether they complied with the standards, he said.
Novikov also said that he did not know when the project implementation work would start.
AEC chairman Abu Sayeed Mohammad Feroz said, ‘It is a turn-key project. So it is Rosatom’s responsibility how it would complete the project.’
In April, science and technology ministry sought a government allocation of Tk 42.5 crore for the project in the outgoing financial year.
But, the ministry does not know how it would spend the money as Rosatom has not provided it with an action plan, officials said.
Novikov, however, told reporters that both the authorities would sign a preliminary deal by June.
He also expressed hope that the information centre at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre in Dhaka will start work by September.
On November 3, 2011, Bangladesh and Russia signed an agreement for installation of a 2,000 megawatt nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna.
The project work is scheduled to start by the end of 2012, and the first unit with a capacity of 1,000MW is planned to start operation by 2018 and the second unit by 2020.
According to the inter-governmental agreement, Moscow will provide all assistance for construction, fuel supply, removal and management of spent fuel rods, formulation of legal and regulatory framework, infrastructure, human resources development and financing.
Russia would provide about 85 per cent of the investment for the project as state loan.

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