The government is likely to import coal to run the Barapukuria power plant as supply has been disrupted from the local coalmine, said Power Division Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus.
“We are planning for importing coal as an alternative,” Kaikaus said on Saturday, adding that a high-level committee has been formed to discuss the issue of importing coal.
The 525MW thermal power plant had been running on coal supplied from the Barapukuria coalmine.
The plant shut production on Jul 22 due to lack of coal supply from the mine, causing a severe power crisis in the north. Although the Sirajganj plant has increased its supply to the region, it has not been sufficient to meet demand.
“We stopped production to ensure the remaining coal could be used by the plant to provide an uninterrupted power supply during Eid holidays,” said Kaikaus.
The mine authority has begun to supply 100 tons of coal to the plant since Friday, said State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid.
The power plant needs about 5,500 tonnes of coal to operate.
It will take about one and a half months to collect sufficient coal from the new phase of mining operations, said the prime minister’s Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.
It is a challenge to secure “quality coal”, as provided by the Barapukuria mine, on short notice.
“We will import coal as per the requirements of the Barapukuria plant,” Kaikaus said. India, Indonesia and Australia are initially being contacted for the deal.
However, he could not give any specific deadline for coal import.
Barapukuria in Dinajpur is one of the largest coalmines in the world, supplying high-quality coal that contains 0.53 percent sulpher and 12.40 percent ash. Its calorific value is higher than 6,000.
The mine authority has filed a complaint under the Anti-Corruption Act accusing 19 persons, including the managing director of the Barapukuria Coal Mining Company, over the disappearance of 144,644 tonnes of coal worth Tk 2.3 billion.
Chowdhury said the government has taken on the responsibility of probing the issue.
“Be patient. There won’t be much trouble apart from a slight fluctuation in voltage.”
The power situation in the Rangpur region is not that bad, said Kaikaus. “There is a problem during peak hours, and also some voltage fluctuation, but we will manage.”
The Barapukuria plant used to supply majority of power in the Rangpur division, which uses about 650 MW power a day among its districts.