Construction work on the two 660 megawatt units of the 1320 megawatt coal-based power plant at Rampal will begin at the end of next March.
While visiting the area, this correspondent found that earth (soil) filling work on the requisite 915 acres of land has already been completed.
Surrounded by a high boundary wall along with a fence, most of the land is covered with kashbon, five high watch towers and an office-cum-residence, and other small residences for the officers and caretakers have already been set up.
While entering the six kilometre bypass roads toward the power plants from the Khulna-Mongla highway, hundreds of labourer are seen working on the land. They are engaged in building blocks made from cement concrete and unloading bricks, stones and other construction materials from the jetty.
Two pontoons and a jetty have been set up on the bank of the Pashur River on the west side of the main power plants.
Arun Chowdhury, Additional General Manager (AGM) of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Ltd, told the news agency that a safe guard (Dhal) would be made with concrete blocks and surround the boundary of the power plants.
Sources concerned said a MoU had been signed between Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Ltd (BIFPCL) to set up 1320 MW coal based "Maitree Super Thermal Power Project" on 915 acres of land at Sapmari-Katakhali and Kaigardaskhati mouja under Rajnagar union of Rampal upazila in Bagerhat in October 2012.
Deputy General Manager of BIFPCL Vinod Bhoyar told BSS that construction on the main power plants would likely begin at the end of March after settling monetary issues from the bank concerning 420 acres of land out of the 915 acres.
Construction work of the power plant project is expected to be completed in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Heavy Electrical Ltd of India will construct the main plants, he said, adding that the officers-employees' and workers' residences, school, hospital, prayer place, community center and other infrastructure would be built on the remaining lands.
As for the environment, Vinod said the Rampal power plant would not harm the Sundarbans as many ultra-modern technologies, including ultra supercritical technology, would be used in the plants.
Alluding to various other coal-based power plants located near forests worldwide, he said the plants being built would be situated at least 21km away from the Sundarbans and 65km away from the mangrove forest.
AGM Arun Chowdhury said BPDB and National Thermal Power Company (NTPC) would hold ownership of the power plant on an equal basis of 50% each.
A total of 70% of the cost out of the involved cost of Tk14,000 crore is on credit as a loan from Exim bank.
Convener of Khulna unit Sunderban Protection National Committee SM Shahnewaz Ali said the project would be harmful for the Sundarbans.
"We have no objection if the project is established at another location," he said.
Manager (Public Relation) of BIFPCL Anwarul Azim said ultra supercritical technology, a 910ft chimney and other technology will be used for the project.
"Everyday 11,000 tons of coal will be needed for the power project, and it will be brought from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa," he said, adding that "over 600 people directly and 10,000-15,000 people indirectly would benefit from the project."
Building a 6km bypass road from Babu Bari highway to the power plant has enabled the local villagers to easily market their shrimp and crops at a lower cost, he said.
He added that the locals would get work on the basis of quality in the project.
To fulfill the increasing demand for electricity for expanding businesses in southern Bangladesh after completing the Padma Bridge, Bangladesh and India are setting up the coal-based power plant in a joint venture at Rampal in Bagerhat, said Md Oliullah, Deputy Manager of Administration and Security at BIFPCL.
Several protests by environmentalists regarding the Rampal power plant are nonsensical as the plant will have no harmful effect on the Sunderbans, he said.
On October 5, 2013 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a function officially inaugurated the 1,320MW plant at Veramara by pressing an electric switch.