Chinese companies are showing interest in constructing the planned second nuclear power plant in Bangladesh’s south although the site is yet to be selected.
Two Chinese companies — Dongfang Electric Corporation and China State Construction Engineering Corporation — have already lobbied the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission to win the deal, officials said.
They said that the government conceived the second nuclear power plant in 2014, but was yet to seek any expression of interest from foreign companies.
The country’s first nuclear power plant is being constructed at Rooppur in Pabna with more than $12 billion financial and technical assistance from Russia. One of the two reactors is expected to be commissioned in 2023.
The officials said that some other Chinese companies, including Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, were making queries about the second nuclear power plant, site of which was likely to be selected in June 2019.
Science and technology secretary Anwar Hossain said that they were considering extending the duration of the site selection programme by six months.
Commission chairman Mahbubul Hoq told New Age on April 18 that Dongfang Electric Corporation officials met him about two months ago and expressed their interest in the proposed nuclear power plant.
‘I told them that the project was in very early stage’, he said.
He said that they were collecting information from four possible sites — Gangamati in Patuakhali, Mazher Char in Barguna, Boyar Char in Noakhali and Muhurir Char in Feni.
Gangamati has priority over three other sites following the government’s plan to develop Patuakhali as a modern coastal belt by establishing a deep sea port and a naval base.
On April 7, China State Construction Engineering Corporation submitted a written proposal to the commission expressing its willingness to ‘undertake the 2nd NPP in Bangladesh’.
Mahbubul Hoq said that they were yet to make any response to the proposal made by the Chinese company that took part in the construction of the first Chinese nuclear power plant, Daya Bay, in 1987.
Officials said that the Chinese corporation assured the commission of ‘timely commencement and completion’ of the project against the backdrop of criticism that many projects, including Padma Multipurpose Bridge, implemented by Chinese companies in Bangladesh caused cost overrun due to delay in construction.
National committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and ports member secretary Anu Muhammad said that he was not surprised to find the over enthusiasm of the Chinese companies for the planed second nuclear power plant.
Since the government hardly maintains transparency in the energy related projects, many Chinese companies are active to win projects through the ‘backdoor’, he noted.
He alleged that a ‘nexus between locals and foreigners’ was influencing the government to undertake inflated and costly projects, many of which had no national interest.
Science and technology secretary Anwar Hossain said that they were not aware of the expression of interest shown by Chinese companies in the second nuclear power plant.
‘May be the atomic energy commission is waiting’ until the project gets a concrete shape, he said.
Officials said that the government wanted to construct the second nuclear
power plant in the coastal region to ensure availability of water.
For the first nuclear power plant at Rooppur, nearly 1,750 cubic metre of water would be fetched everyday from the nearby Padma River to cool the reactors, they said.
The atomic energy commission has also invited Japan Atomic Energy Agency to explore the possibility of building the proposed nuclear power plant with 2,000MW power generation capacity.
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