” The new government will fast-track the 1,320-megawatt coal-based Rampal Power Plant. Technologies are available in the world to address environmental and other concerns about the coal-based plant. We will employ them, and the plant will be completed quickly.” said Energy Adviser Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury.
He spoke at a seminar styled ‘Coal Power Generation in Bangladesh: World’s Best Practices’, organised by the Power Division on 2nd February, at Bidyut Bhaban in Dhaka.
Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, said the government would address all environmental and safety concerns, adopt world class technologies and ensure standard compliance.
Power Secretary Monowar Islam said the government would set up a monitoring system outside the plant for people to see what is going on inside and the emissions level.
Things should not end with the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), said AR Khan, chairman of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission. “There should be regular monitoring on whether the EIA is being followed.”
The government should employ clean technologies and ensure best practices at the coal-based power plant in Rampal to keep potential environment damage in check, experts said in the seminar.
“There will not be much of an impact on the environment if the plant is run efficiently,” said Ijaz Hossain, a professor of chemical engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Most debates on coal-based plants centre the technologies China had used 30 to 50 years ago, he added. “But this is 2014, and there are modern technologies. Despite using the most polluting technologies to generate power from coal, China has not been destroyed.” How much monitoring authority the Department of Environment (DoE) will enjoy also remains to be seen, Hossain said. “We also need to look at the agencies that will run the plant.”
Khondkar Saleque Sufi, adviser to the mines and petroleum ministry in Afghanistan, said Bangladesh would have to produce electricity from coal to continue the pace of power generation, as gas the reserves are depleting fast with no major discoveries in sight.
Abu Naser Khan, chairman of Save the Environment Movement, said there is no doubt that Bangladesh needs to produce electricity from coal to develop the country. “At the same time, we need to take care of the ecosystem of the Sundarbans and the local community.”
Rafiq Ahammed, a director of DoE, said the capacity of the people who will run and manage the plant would have to be developed.
Mollah Amzad Hossain, editor of Energy & Power, said Bangladesh would not go far in meeting its rising demand for electricity if it cannot exploit its domestic coal.
Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain also spoke.