India and Bangladesh have agreed to jointly build the 1,320MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal of Bagerhat, near the Sundarbans, Bangladesh.

A $1.49bn contract in this regard has been awarded by Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (BIFPCL) to India’s state-owned firm Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL).

BIFPCL is a 50-50 joint venture between India's state-owned utility National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bangladesh Power Development Board.

The contract scopes involves engineering procurement construction (EPC) package for the main plant in the project.

BHEL was selected by BIFPCL following an international open bidding process.

Principal secretary to Bangladesh Prime Minister Abul Kalam Azad was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying: "We have a coal-powered plant at (northwestern) Barapukuria in a crowded location which is not affecting the environment while the technology being used for the Rampal plant is far more modern and most environment friendly (than that of Barapukuria)."

The power plant deal comes despite concerns raised by environmental groups which claim that it could affect the mangrove forest’s ecosystem.

BIFPCL managing director Ujjwal Kanti Bhattacharya said: "We respect the concern of the people of Bangladesh, we are set to maintain the maximum environmental standards for the plant."

Backed by funding from Indian Exim Bank, the project construction is expected to commence in three to four months and will be completed in 2019.

The power plant development is said to be the biggest project under the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Bangladesh Prime Minister's power and energy advisor Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury was quoted by Dhaka Tribune as saying: “We are setting the best example by building this project despite huge criticisms."

Image: The proposed Rampal power plant will use coal to generate electricity in Bangladesh. Photo: courtesy of John Kasawa/