28th January 2018

   DHAKA, Jan 28, 2018 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today laid the foundation of the 1200 MW Matarbari plant, regarded as a flagship project for being an "ultra super critical coal fired power" plant to be installed at a cost of Taka 36,000-crore.


"Our goal is to light up every house of Bangladesh as we want to build Bangladesh as a hunger and poverty free nation by 2021 and a developed one by 2041," Sheikh Hasina said marking the event.


The premier laid the foundation through a video conference from her Gonobhaban residence while the plant to be constructed at Matarbari of Moheshkhali upazila of Cox's Bazar with Japan government's financial and technical cooperation.


Officials familiar with the process said plant would have a major contribution towards the government aim to make electricity for all by 2021.


Sheikh Hasina said her government attached importance to power production against the backdrop of its rapid demand growth as the key component of production while the people's financial ability was being enhanced simultaneously as well.


"Availability of electricity would help development of many industries in the area, diversifying the economic activities of the people and bringing prosperity in their lives," she said. Officials said currently the country's power production capacity stood at 16,000 MW, a scenario that gave 90 percent people the access to electricity with the expanded national power grid and solar system contributing to the development.


Sheikh Hasina said the government itself constructed several power plants and imported electricity from neighbouring India to meet the growing electricity demands.


Simultaneously, she said, the government gave due attention to enhance the transmission and distribution capacity to ensure uninterrupted power supply.


The prime minister thanked Japanese government for their support to build the power plant saying since Bangladesh's independence Japan remained by its side as a great development partner.


"We get touch of Japan in our every development work and we always give importance to our friendship with Japan," she said.


Japanese prime minister's Special Advisor Kentaro Sonoura and senior vice president of JICA Jinichi Yamadas also spoke on the occasion while Japanese ambassador in Bangladesh Hiroyasu Izumi took part at the function from the Matarbari end.


PM's advisors Dr Tawfiq Ehali Chowdhury and Dr Gowher Rizvi, state minister for power Nasrul Hamid, Chief Coordinator in PMO on SDG affairs Abul Kalam Azad and senior officials were present at Gonobhaban.


PM's principal secretary Dr Nojibur Rahman conducted the function while secretary of the power division Ahmad Kaikaus gave a presentation on the project.


After the inauguration the premier also talked to parliament member Ashik Ullah Chowdhury of the area, a district administration official, an affected person and a female student of Matarbari High School at the Matarbari end.


Other parliament members of the district, local public representatives and cross section of people joined the function at Matarbari.


At the very beginning the prime minister expressed her profound grief for the incident that had taken place in Holy Artisan Restaurant in July 2016 when many Japanese citizens, working in various development projects in Bangladesh, were brutally killed by militants.


She thanked the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for standing beside Bangladesh even after the incident and extending cooperation to the development of Bangladesh.


Sheikh Hasina assured the foreign workers of taking all measures for their full security saying, "They are our development partners and they have devoted their lives for our development." She urged the elected public representatives, party workers and local people of Cox's Bazar to give highest attention to the complete security of the Japanese nationals working in the Matarbari power plant project.


Recalling the Japanese support to Bangladesh the prime minister said we always gratefully remember the Japanese children's donation of the money of their one-day tiffin for the refugees and children of Bangladesh in 1971.


"After liberation, she said the Japanese government extended their wholehearted cooperation to Bangabandhu to rebuild the war ravaged country," she said, adding Japanese support to Bangladesh is still continuing.


Sheikh Hasina said the power project in Matarbari would usher in huge prospect to the people of picturesque Moheshkhali, where there was no prospective occupation of the people except cultivation of betel leaves and shrimp production.


She said the project would also open up new economic opportunities for other offshore small islands and city of the world's longest sandy sea beach Cox's Bazar, boosting the tourism industries and other business activities. A deep sea port is also being constructed across Moheshkhali and Sonadia, she said.


The prime minister assured the people, who were affected due to acquiring land for the project saying every affected person would get adequate compensation. The government has also taken steps for their rehabilitation. The Japanese government is very much sympathetic towards the affected people for their rehabilitation, she added.


Terming the exodus of Rohingyas as the main problem of Cox's Bazar the prime minister said Bangladesh has given them shelter on humanitarian ground. The government is continuing discussion to send them back to their homeland as soon as possible.


Temporary shelter and cyclone centers are being constructed for them at Bhasan Char, she said, adding the government has already started work for development of the Char and construction of necessary embankment so that local people can use the land after repatriation of the Rohingyas.

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