Payra economic hub: first piece of the puzzle in place

The Payra area in Patuakhali is going to be a major economic hub with a seaport, special economic zone, airport and the country’s largest coal-fired power station which will be officially commissioned tomorrow.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the 1,320 megawatt plant.

According to government documents, thousands of jobs will be created as the physical works of the megaprojects progress. Eventually, the economic zone will increase the country’s GDP by 2%.

The authorities plan to supply around 80 to 85% of the plant’s electricity to the south of the country.

Officials said the plant will only operate at full capacity once the 440 kV transmission line is established across the Padma River, which could take a year.

The two-unit plant, each with a capacity of 660 MW, is already connected to the national grid in Gopalganj. Officials use the two units on a rotational basis, producing 320 to 640 MW of electricity.

The plant’s first unit was connected to the national grid on May 15, 2020, while the second started production on December 8 last year.

Rezwan Iqbal Khan, the power plant’s executive engineer, said some 163 km of transmission line connects the plant to a Gopalganj grid. Another 85 km of lines are under construction between Gopalganj and Amin Bazar in Dhaka.

Only two of the seven towers of the Dhaka-Payra power transmission line were built on the Padma, said Golam Kibria, managing director of Power Grid Company of Bangladesh.

The construction of the other five towers will be completed by June while the cables will be installed by December, he added.

Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited (BCPCL) constructed the power station on 982.77 acres of land at a cost of about Tk 20,000 crore or $2.46 billion. Of this amount, $1.96 billion was lent by the Export-Import Bank of China. The company started working in 2016.

The plant burns some 13,000 tonnes of coal per day, generating 180 tonnes of fly and bottom ash as by-products.

BCPCL Deputy Manager Shahmoni Ziko said the plant has a 76.30 acre dumping area where 25 years of by-products can be stored.

The plant currently imports coal from Indonesia. It has its own pier whose conveyor belts can unload 3,200 tons of coal every hour from four ships at the same time.

Bangladesh’s power generation capacity reached 25,514 MW from just 4,942 MW in 2009, according to the data.

In 2013, the government planned to construct a coal terminal, an airport, a special economic zone, rail connectivity, a shipyard, a liquid bulk terminal and an LNG terminal in the Payra-Dhankhali area of ​​Kalapara, Patuakhali.

The government is implementing four port-related projects at a cost of Tk 15,863 crore. The port’s physical establishments grew by 80%.

According to data from the Ministry of Planning, the port started operating on a small scale in August 2016.

The construction of the main infrastructure of the port, a four-lane road, dredging on internal naval routes, a warehouse, six ships, accommodation and sanitary facilities for officials is almost complete.

According to the plan, the government will produce 12,000 MW of electricity at Payra, including another 1,320 MW coal plant and several other plants that will run on LNG and renewable energy.

[Sohrab Hossain contributed to the report]

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