In an unprecedented move, the government in a single day yesterday approved several mega projects, including Rooppur nuclear power plant and a rail bridge over the Jamuna, worth Tk 152,712 crore ($19.09 billion).
About 76 percent of the projects cost will be financed by Russia, China, and Japan.
“In the history of the country, approval of such large projects is unprecedented,” Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting at the NEC Auditorium of the ministry.
He said the amount of money approved to be spent was more than that of the ADP of the current fiscal year.
The Ecnec meeting, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, approved the most costly project in the country's history, the Rooppur nuclear power plant that involves Tk 113,093 crore.
Russia's state export credit will provide Tk 91,040 crore or 80.5 percent of the total project cost, with Bangladesh government chipping in the rest, according to the project's proposal.
Bangladesh already received $500 million for initial work of the 2,400 megawatt power plant project, which began in July 2016. The project is expected to be complete by December 2025.
The planning minister said the setting up of two nuclear power plants was planned in the Pakistan era. One of the two was supposed to be in then West Pakistan and the other in the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
Kamal said a nuclear power plant was built in West Pakistan but no such plant was set up here. He said Pakistan now has four nuclear power plants and there were 67 such plants in countries in the world.
In future, 168 more nuclear power plants will be set up across the world, he said.
The plant would use a new generation reactor, which would have a lifespan of 60 years with the option to extend it another 20 years, according to a planning ministry official.
The reactor contains improved safety features, and its passive safety system is capable of working for 72 hours in case of any critical or emergency situation, the official added.
A planning ministry report said Russia would take back the nuclear waste or spent fuel of the plant. In the agreement it has been mentioned specifically and the signing of a cooperation agreement was under process.
The Ecnec yesterday approved the building of a separate railway bridge alongside Bangabandhu Bridge at a cost of Tk 9,734 crore ($1.22 billion).
With the finance of Tk 7,724 crore ($966 million) from JICA, the project is expected to finish in December 2023.
A planning ministry report said the existing multipurpose bridge has limitation regarding load and speed of trains.
The Ecnec yesterday approved another mega project for expanding and strengthening electricity distribution system worth Tk 20,501 crore ($2.56 billion). Of the amount China will finance Tk 13,844 crore or 68 percent.
Under the project, underground cable network of 132KV and 33KV power lines would be set up in Dhaka and Narayanganj cities. The existing overhead transmission lines at Hatirjheel area would be taken under ground.
The planning minister said the project would cut system loss and people would get better services.
The project is expected to finish in 2021.
The ECNEC yesterday also approved nine other projects involving Tk 9,385 crore.
The ADB will provide Tk 3,406 crore in three of the projects.