Rooppur Nuke Power Plant: Launching not before 2025



The Rooppur nuclear power plant is likely to be delayed further if the recent revision of one of the associated projects is any indication.

The deadline for the Tk 3,440.1 crore project to construct the physical protection system (PPS) of the Rooppur nuclear power plant has been extended by one year and nine months by Planning Minister MA Mannan on December 6 last year.

Mannan informed the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council about the revision yesterday.

Physical protection (also called physical security) consists of a variety of measures to protect nuclear facilities and material against sabotage, theft, diversion, and other malicious acts.

The PPS-related equipment and materials cannot be fully purchased and physical facilities installed unless the construction work of all facilities is completed, according to the proposal for revision.

Besides, if the physical protection equipment is installed before the completion of the main project, there is a risk that their performance will be compromised and their warranty period will expire before the equipment could even be put to use.

“Therefore, it is advisable to purchase and install the PPS physical facilities once the construction work of the main project is complete. Due to this, the cumulative physical and financial progress of the project has been relatively low,” it added.

As of June last year, the project’s financial progress is 9.7 percent and physical progress is 30.17 percent.

Subsequently, the project, which was taken up in October 2019 for completion by this month, will now wrap up in December next year.

Originally, Rooppur nuclear power plant was supposed to start commercial operation in December 2023, but in December last year, Nasrul Hamid, the state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, said the plant may start electricity supply by the end of 2024.

This deadline is unlikely to be met given the time extension for PPS. There was a nine-month gap between the completion of the PPS and commissioning in the original schedule.

This means, the commissioning can be expected to start well into 2025.

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her dissatisfaction over the cost escalation of 288 percent for a project to purchase armoured vehicles through a Japanese grant to scale up Bangladesh Police’s efficiency.

The Tk 80 crore project for the purchase of 12 armoured vehicles, 20 escort vehicles and five floodlight vehicles was taken up in July 2019 under a Japanese grant. The procurement was supposed to be done by June 2021.

That did not happen.

Subsequently, the implementing agency has sought a time extension of two years to June 2023 and another Tk 246.48 crore, a fourfold cost escalation.

The reason behind the proposed cost revision is the imposition of an 826 percent value-added tax against the value of armoured and escort vehicles that the project authority was not aware of while preparing the development project proposal.

“It’s true that the PM has expressed her dissatisfaction,” Satyajit Karmaker, secretary of the planning division, told reporters after the meeting.

The PM said that those vehicles were purchased with a grant. Were the officials careful, the complexities that have arisen due to the tax issues could have been avoided, Karmaker said quoting Hasina.

“The prime minister said that buildings are constructed one after another in the name of projects. It is not right. What we are seeing is beautiful buildings are there but there are no people, there are computers but no trainers. This is really terrible,” Mannan told reporters, quoting Hasina.

She also directed the government officials to use locally-assembled Pragoti vehicles.

Hasina also expressed her utter dismay over the road transport and highway division’s draft policy that proposed the maximum speed of motorcycles below 126cc to 30kmph, The Daily Star has learnt from officials informed on the contents of the meeting.

“A lot of people now travel on bikes. Bikes take small space compared to cars. The rider might drive a bit fast like at a speed of 40 or 50kmph when the traffic is light to reach the destination fast. If the speed limit is imposed, it will only discourage the use of bikes,” said one of the officials quoting the PM.

Subsequently, the PM has directed the home minister to look into the issue.

At the meeting, Ecnec approved five of the nine proposals for increasing their deadlines by two to five years and cost revision of up to 40 percent.

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