Bangladesh, India and Russia signed a trilateral agreement on Thursday to cooperate in the construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Pabna, according to Indian newspaper The Economic Times.
The agreement was signed in Moscow by deputy director general of Rosatom (Russia's Alex civil nuclear body) Nikolay Spassky, ambassador of Bangladesh in Russia SM Saiful Hoque and Indian ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran.
This will be first ever nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. "Today was a landmark event for both of our countries - and the industry as a whole. We are confident that this is the first step toward the formation of a new, forward-looking cooperation agenda in the region," Spassky said.
Talking to Economic Tmes from Dhaka, Ali Zulquarnain, former chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission said, "We still have a long way to go with nuclear technology. Our neighbour India is more advanced than us in this regard.''
''Some of the Indian nuclear power plants are built by Russia and the two countries share a good working relation in this regard. Bangladesh can also enter into cooperation with the two countries and gain from their experiences,'' he added.
Rosatom is constructing the nuclear power plant in Bangladesh on a turnkey contract basis. The scope of work includes design, production and supply of equipment, construction, installation, pre-commissioning and commissioning, according to Rosatom officials.
Nuclear Power Cooperation of India Limited (NPCIL) will play a key role in building a nuclear power plant on foreign soil with the proposed supply of equipment and material for the power station being built by Russia in Bangladesh. India is also extending support for capacity building and has been training Bangladeshi nuclear scientists for the project.
India, having experience in building its nuclear power stations and operating the Kudankulam Plant, built with Russian assistance, showed interest in participating in a Russian project in Bangladesh.
The memorandum set a framework for the interaction of the Russian contractor, Indian and Bangladeshi experts in the implementation of the project. The parties, in particular, will cooperate in the field of personnel training and mentoring, exchange of experience and provision of consulting support. Indian companies can be involved in construction and installation works, the supply of materials and equipment of a non-critical category in the interests of the project, officials told ET.
While India has been working with major powers (USA, Russia and Japan) across various sectors as well as firming up joint ventures in third countries in Africa, SE Asia and Central Asia, it would be the first occasion where Delhi will be involved in a civil nuclear project on foreign soil, marking India’s global entry into a strategic sector.
It will also boost the Make in India initiative amid a proposal by Delhi to Moscow for manufacturing of some nuclear power reactor equipment in India.
Few years back Delhi and Moscow had concluded a pact for joint civil nuclear ventures in third countries. Later India signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal, along with two more related agreements, with Bangladesh last April during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s India visit. This was Delhi's second such agreement in the neighbourhood after an agreement with Sri Lanka reflecting India's growing stature as a responsible nuclear power.
The Rooppur plant involves two units, each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated on the bank of Padma river. Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant’s generation units will be based on VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation technology. The VVER-1200 is the most powerful reactor in Russia and it has three key advantages: it shows high-performance, it is durable and safe. The main feature of VVER-1200 project (one of the world’s advanced reactors) is its unique combination of active and passive safety systems which provide the maximum resistance against external and internal impact, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and plane crash.
VVER-1200 technology is also likely to be offered to India for the second set of six Russian built nuclear reactors. This technology uses "post-Fukushima" safety standards for a nuclear power plant, Russian officials told ET.