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Dhaka Sunday,  Sep 23, 2018

Bangladesh begins importing cement from India for Rooppur NPP

Rafiqul Bashar

So far India has been helping Bangladesh’s dream for nuclear power by providing consultancy services for the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, but now it is also giving material assistance. Bangladesh has started import of cement from India for the construction of its maiden nuclear power plant.

The assistance is part of the tripartite agreement signed between Bangladesh, India and Russia on March 1 in Moscow. While Russia would remain the sole provider of the core technologies, India will be providing expert consultancy and human resource training and act as sub-contractor for other construction material. It is the first time that India, a non-member of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, is taking part in a third country.

Already, cement import has started from India and it will be used in the Rooppur plant. Managing Director of Nuclear Power Plant Company Ltd. and Project Director of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP), Dr. Md. Shaukat Akbar said: “Russia will be the sole responsible party to install the main power plant unit; and will be accountable for sourcing the core materials and build the power plant according to the signed deal. Already, Russia has started importing cement from India as Bangladesh is not capable enough to meet the demand of the project.” India will also be giving consultation regarding a few matters like soil test, long-term river training works, river management, human resource training and other infrastructural construction.

Former chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Nuclear Scientist M Ali Zulkarnain said: “Bangladesh will also import some non-scientific instruments or materials from India. Bangladesh won’t import any engineering components from India.”

Bangladesh has also signed two inter-governmental and inter-agency agreement with Indian ‘Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership’ (GCNEP). The GCNEP will be facilitating the consultancy services along with the training programs. According to the agreement, Indian contractors will take part in the tenders for building the infrastructures at the RNPP and they will also be able to supply goods for the project. Being a sub-contractor, India will also be able to supply products and machinery for RNPP that are made in India along with the provision of installing some machinery. However, the Indians won’t be able to supply any critical parts or machinery such as the turbine, reactor etc that are needed to install this nuke power plant. India is only allowed to take part in installing the non-critical parts of the power plant.

According to the principal deal, Russia is to install the RNPP, supply the technologies and train the human resources of the project. The project manager, along with the personnel related to the operations of the power plant, will get training from Russia, says the agreement.

India will also participate in the main construction of the power plant. A deal was recently signed with the Russian Atomstroyexport regarding this matter. Max Construction of Bangladesh along with Hindustan Construction Company from India will jointly take part in the main construction of the plant. Besides, the 26 km long rail-line from Iswardi to Rooppur will be constructed under an India-Bangladesh Joint-Venture. The Indo-Bangla JV consists of three separate companies from each side – Standard Engineers Ltd (SEL) and Castle Construction Company Ltd (CCCL) of Bangladesh and GTP Infraprojects Ltd of India.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has signed bilateral cooperation deals and MoUs with India on the peaceful usage and development of nuclear energy. Already a number of professionals from Bangladesh have taken training from the nuclear power plant of KudanKulam in Tamil Nadu of India.

The main construction of the RNPP started in October 2017 with the First Concrete Pouring program inaugurated by Prime Minister Hasina. Recently, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the construction of the second phase of the RNPP project.

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