22 February 2010 - Bangladesh has signed a $1.7bn deal with India to build two coal fired power plants in the country's south to ease a huge electricity shortage.
According to AFP, the plants, which will have a total daily generating capacity of 1320 MW, will help alleviate the severe power shortfalls suffered by impoverished Bangladesh. The plants will be constructed by Dhaka's Power Development Board and India's NTPC and be ready in three years, Dhaka's Power Development Board spokesman Bazlul Haque said.
The two companies, both state-owned, will share the $1.7bn cost of building the plants, which will be managed by the Indian company and will use imported coal, Haque said. Officials from the two countries signed the agreement in Dhaka, he said, adding a four-month feasibility study will be carried out before construction starts in July.
Bangladesh has long suffered severe power outages due to demands imposed by its fast-growing economy. The power shortfall is especially acute in the hot summer months from April to October. Years of under-investment mean Bangladesh's power plants generate around 4000 MW of electricity a day, while demand totals 6000 MW - a figure growing by 500 MW a year due to increasing industrialization.
Just 40 per cent of Bangladesh's 144m people have power while peak-time shortages force some factories to halt production.
Power secretary Abul Kalam Azad said the new plants are part of the government's $9.5bn power investment plan to boost generating capacity.
"We're going to invite bids from local and foreign companies to generate power to eliminate the shortfall," he said, adding New Delhi has also agreed to help Dhaka modernize some of its decades-old plants.