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Bangladesh - Power & Energy - July 31, 2023

Matarbari becoming new economic hub

Faridul Alam Shahin, Cox’s Bazar: People of Matarbari and Dhalghata Unions of Maheshkhali, the only island upazila in the country, once used to make a living by harvesting fish, salt farming, shrimp farming, farming various crops, now many people work there. Some have changed their profession and are earning their living by driving auto-rickshaws or engaging in some other professions. At present, about 1000 local people are working on this project of Matarbari Coal Power Plant. Where these people used to earn Tk 15,000 to Tk 18,000 a month, now they earn Tk 25,000 to Tk 28,000.
Alamgir Hossain passed SSC from Matarbari High School in 2018. Although he has a strong interest in studies, he has to join work due to the family’s financial situation. Family with parents and two younger sisters. Keeping in mind the treatment of his sick father, Alamgir started working at Matarbari coal power plant. His family survives on a monthly salary of Tk 25,000.
He was doing fish business for 10 years. This resident of Matarbari has now changed his profession. He now runs a CNG autorickshaw instead of fishing business due to various reasons including low income due to increase in the price of fish. About the change of profession. Rubel told Daily Industry that the fishing business was not profitable. Since the new roads have been made, now we buy and drive autorickshaws. Good rent, good income.
Not only occupational change, but also resettled those affected by land acquisition in the project area.
The people of these housing projects illuminated by electricity. Besides, there has been a significant change in the communication system in the entire Matarbari centering on the project.
On the surface, it can be seen that the homesteads are spread over a large area near the sea. In these places, most of the land was used for fish and salt cultivation. Now there has been a radical change with the mega project of Matarbari coal power plant and deep-sea port. A large-scale road is being prepared for the project area. Hundreds of villages have been electrified to meet the electricity demand. Coal yard is built to store coal after importing it. Besides, ash disposal area and buffer zone have been set up in the project area. The work of the jetty is also completed for coal discharge with the power plant. Vessels have also started sailing at the jetty. This mega project has changed the landscape of the entire area.
Chairman of Matarbari Union Parishad Abu Haider told Daily Industry that the impact of the development across the country has also affected us here due to this mega project. There have been radical changes in infrastructure and communication, which have changed the meaning of life.
Moheshkhali upazila nirhabi officer Yasin said that shrimp and salt were farmed earlier in the project area. Now there are many changes in the communication system. It takes more than two hours to reach Matarbari from Maheshkhali. Now it will take about 30 minutes. If the deep-sea port is built, rail connectivity will also be created in Matarbari.
Matarbari project
In 2015, in addition to the construction of this power plant with Japanese funding, the construction of the port infrastructure and jetty started in Cox’s Bazar’s Maheshkhali upazila at Union Matarbari on the coast. This project of Matarbari Coal Power Plant is being constructed on 1,414 acres of land in Matarbari and Dhalghata Union of Maheshkhali, the only island upazila in the country. The construction of the infrastructure of this power plant at a cost of Tk 51,850 crore is almost at the final stage. Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCL), the implementing company, has brought the work of this large project built on the model of Japan’s Niigata and Kashima ports.
A consortium of Japan’s Sumitomo, Toshiba and IHI companies is cooperating in the construction of this seven-year power plant funded by JICA. According to project updates, jetty and physical infrastructure work is 95 percent complete, overall physical infrastructure work is 90 percent.
Highlighting the overall situation, the executive director of the project, Nazmul Haque told Daily Industry, one of the two parts of our project is the power plant, the other is the port. We will generate 1200 megawatts of electricity from the power plant. The entire work here is already done. He said that the project is being worked on by ensuring all necessary measures to prevent environmental pollution. The coal will be seen only once when the coal is unloaded from the ship. Then the coal will go directly from the jetty to the plant. It will not pollute the environment. Talking to the project officials, it is known that six ships including Auso Maru have arrived at Matarbari coal power plant. 80,000 metric tons of coal has been unloaded and stored from there. The next ship will arrive next month.
As a result, 600 MW from the first and 600 MW from the second will be connected to the national grid in December this year. However, from every 600 megawatts, 6.8 percent of electricity will be lost as other expenses, and the rest will be added.
Project executive director Nazmul Haque told Daily Industry that work is being done to add 600 megawatts of electricity to the national grid in December. What we (the first unit) is supposed to do in January 2024, we hope to be able to launch it in full swing by December itself. And I am thinking of launching the second one in July next year.
Meanwhile, the government has also taken the initiative to make a port to bring coal for Matarbari power plant, which will also be developed as a modern sea port of the country. The 59 feet deep port can accommodate 80,000 ton capacity ships. Japan’s Toshiba Corporation will build the port.
Although the work of the coal-based power plant is almost completed, the work of the deep-sea port has not yet started. Roads, waterways as well as railways will be opened only when the deep-sea port is opened.
As a result of the mega project, the project’s executive director Nazmul Haque told Daily Industry that seven to eight thousand people are currently working on the project. 600 people will be required to manage the power plant if it is fully operational.

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