Govt mulls import to tackle coal crisis

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The power plant needs about 5,500 tonnes of coal to operate.It is a challenge to secure “quality coal”, as provided by the Barapukuria mine, on short notice.

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.

The 525MW thermal power plant had been running on coal supplied from the Barapukuria coalmine.

Power Division Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus on Saturday said that the government is likely to import coal to run the Barapukuria power plant as supply has been disrupted from the local coalmine.

“We are planning for importing coal as an alternative,” Kaikaus said, adding that a high-level committee has been formed to discuss the issue of importing coal.

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, bdnews24.com reports.

“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.

“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.

“The coal mine authority assured us of resuming their coal production at the mine by September 10. If they start coal supply, we will be able to resume power generation at the Barapukuria power plant on that date”, Kaikaus told reporters.

Power Secretary said this while talking to reporters following unveiling of “Net Metering Guideline for Purchase of Rooftop Solar Power” at a programme at Bidyut Bhaban in the city.

He noted that the Power Development Board (PDB) already started power supply to the northern region through alternative arrangement, UNB adds.

But still people may face load shedding of one or two hours along with lower voltage problem there, he added.
The power secretary said the government has formed a committee to study the possible option of importing coal to resume power production before September 10.

Kaikaus said steps have been taken by the PDB to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the northern districts during the Holy Eid-ul-Azha.

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