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Banshkhali power station (S Alam)

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Banshkhali power station (S Alam), also known as Chittagong power station, is a proposed 1,224-megawatt (MW) coal plant in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The project will be built by SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation.[1]

Location

The map below shows the location of Chittagong but not the exact location of the project.

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Background

In December 2013, S. Alam Group of Bangladesh signed an agreement in Dhaka with China's SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation to build a 1320 MW coal plant in Chittagong. The cost of the project was estimated at $1.8 billion. The Daily Star reported, "Officials said the new company would sign a separate agreement with state-run Power Development Board, which will mandate the joint venture to complete the construction work in 45 months."[1] It is not clear from the report whether the project will be a formal joint venture involving the Bangladesh Power Development Board, or whether the "joint venture" refers to the agreement signed between S Alam Group and SEPCOIII.

On February 16, 2016, the government of Bangladesh approved the deal and set a price to purchase electricity from the group at a rate of BDT 6.61 per unit. The project was reported to be 2 x 612 MW. The group started to acquire 600 acres of land for this plant. According to Bangladesh's The Daily Star: "Surprisingly, all these steps were taken without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public consultation. There was no environmental clearance."[2] The Bangladesh Post reports the "Power Division approved the project in October 2013."[3]

In April 2016 S Alam group was asked to revise its environmental impact assessment report (EIA) for the project.[4]

In March 2018 it was reported that "The work of this plant was supposed to be completed in 2019, but the construction work has not started yet." According to S Alam Group, site development has begun and financial close was expected soon.[3]

Public opposition

According to the Daily Star of Bangladesh, the project has been marred by a lack of transparency and irregularities since its inception. Authorities also avoided discussing the full scope of the project's impact: "The local administration had shown a total of only 150 households in the project area, but in reality the area has at least 7,000 households, 70 mosques, graveyards, a technical education institution, around 20 cyclone shelter houses, one high school, eight primary government schools, two Alia Madrassa, five Qawmi Madrassa, five markets, and one government hospital. Hiding the real numbers is a familiar practice to rationalize the project and also to ease the handover of khas (government) land to the private company."[2]

March 2016: Thousands protest plant

On March 23, 2016, 30,000 people gathered demanding the project be shifted elsewhere and their land be returned to them. On April 3, 2016, police arrested seven people from the village, accusing them of obstructing the company's work. In response, on April 4, 2016, locals gathered under the banner of “Boshot Bhita Rokkha Committee” (Committee to Protect Households).[2] Witnesses estimated the the crowd at around 15,000 protesters.[5]

April 2016: Four killed in plant protest

Four people were killed after police opened fire on the protesters. Witnesses said that 100 people were injured. According to local authorities, police claimed that the shootings occurred when protesters attacked them at the "banned" protest.[5] According to the Daily Star, members of a paramilitary group were allegedly paid by the company to break up the event and started firing on the unarmed protesters, with the police eventually joining in the shooting.[2]

The victims included a pair of brothers, according to district police chief Hafiz Akter. In addition to the fatalities, dozens of protests were reported injured, as well as 11 policemen, one of whom was shot in the head. According to Dr. Saiful Islam of Chittagong Medical College Hospital, seven people, including four who were shot by live rounds, were brought to his clinic. According to protest leader Abu Ahmed, "Police opened fire as we brought out a procession against the power plants. They even chased the villagers to their homes."[5]

February 2017: One killed, a dozen injured at Chittagong protest

One person was killed and "about a dozen" were injured at a protest on February 1, 2017 against the S Alam power Chittagong power station. According to Nurul Mostafa, a leader of a citizens group opposing the plant, protesters were chanting slogans when police attacked them.[6][7]

Financing

Two Chinese firms -- SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG -- are financing US$1.75 billion of the the plants' estimated $2.4 billion cost.[5]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: S. Alam Group (70 percent), SEPCOIII (20 percent), STG Development Group (10 percent)[8]
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Chittagong
  • Coordinates: 22.3667, 91.8 (approximate)
  • Status: Pre-permit development
  • Gross Capacity: 1,224 MW (Units 1-2: 612 MW)
  • Type:
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type:
  • Coal Source: Indonesia[1]
  • Source of financing: SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG (US$1.75 billion of $2.4 billion cost)

Articles and resources

References

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