Maitree power plant fuels socio-economic growth in southwestern Bangladesh

DailySun || Shining BD

Published: 6/12/2024 5:55:40 AM

The Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant, located in Rampal upazila in Bagerhat, is playing a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the southwestern region of Bangladesh in addition to generating electricity for the nation.

This significant initiative is spearheaded by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL), a joint venture between the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and India’s NTPC Limited.

Officials from the power plant have highlighted various community development programmes to enhance the quality of life of the local residents. These initiatives encompass employment opportunities, sustainability efforts, educational programmes, clean water supply, distribution of sewing machines, and computer training.

The first unit of the power plant was commissioned in December 2022, followed by the commencement of commercial production of the second unit in March this year. BIFPCL Managing Director Sangeeta Kaushik emphasised the project’s commitment to improving people's lives in the project area, reflecting the collaborative spirit between the two neighbouring countries.

“Since the beginning of the project, over 80,000 people have benefited from the community hospital within the Maitree township. Additionally, 526 youths, both men and women, have received computer training and sewing machines. We have also established 20 water treatment plants to provide clean drinking water to the residents of Rampal and Mongla upazilas,” Sangeeta told the Daily Sun.

The project has recently extended relief to 3,000 families and distributed warm clothes among neighbouring villagers during winter. Sangeeta further highlighted that the plant has been committed to community development from the very start of the project. Through these extensive efforts, the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant is not only powering homes and industries but also fostering significant socio-economic advancements in the southwestern region of Bangladesh.

BIFPCL Project Director Santanu Kumar Mishra said the community development through the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant is their priority under the activities.

“We have arranged health check-ups. Villagers of all ages can visit our hospital for treatment. We have provided safe drinking water to nearby villages. Locals appreciated this initiative. Our main aim is to provide health protection to the people around the project area,” Mishra said.

On average, 50 individuals receive emergency and primary health care every day at the Cure Medical Centre in the power plant. More than 100 types of medicines are given free of cost.

According to the hospital authorities, various tests, including blood tests (CBC, sugar, lipid profile), urine tests, hepatitis B and dengue tests, are provided at a nominal cost.

Thakur Dam, a villager, lost a major part of one of his fingers while working. Now, he has completely recovered after receiving treatment from the health centre.

“I can work as before. I did not have to spend any money on treatment and medicine,” he said.

Niramoy Hospital’s duty physician Dr Abdullah Al Noman said there is no hospital within 20 km.

“Power plant authorities’ free health care programme is very beneficial for the locals. Emergency and outdoor services are available round the clock,” he said.

Villagers in Rampal and Mongla mostly depend on rainwater for drinking amid salinity. Since commencing the project, the Maitree plant has taken various initiatives to provide clean water by solving the water problem in these two upazilas, benefitting 3,500 families.

A clean water supply plant has been installed in front of Digraj Bazar Al-Jamiatul Arabia Majidul Uloom Digraj Qaumi Madrasa and Orphanage in Mongla. People in surrounding areas also come here regularly to take fresh water.

Moinuddin Ahmed, a teacher of Digraj Madrasa said that underground water, pond-canal and bill water in this area are salty and cannot be consumed.
“Saving rainwater and using it throughout the year was our only solution. Now we are freed from the water woes and worries since the water treatment plant was installed here by the Rampal Power Plant,” he said.

The Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant project has provided employment opportunities to a large number of local people. At present, about 80% of the unskilled workers are employed by local people. Also since 2016, the power plant has provided skill development training to 526 local youth and women.

As many as 265 of them have been given computer training and 261 women tailoring training. Tech equipment and sewing machines have been distributed among them after the training. Utilising the knowledge, they can earn and help their families.

Project officials said just a few years ago, these coastal residents were not familiar with a better life. The communication system has undergone drastic changes for this large power plant project.

As part of educational development in 15 schools and four colleges in Rampal and Mongla, the power plant is supporting teachers and students by distributing various educational materials, including bags, water filters, and umbrellas.

Already, 2,000 sets of educational materials have been distributed to local academic institutions. Prize bonds were also given to students with the highest GPA.

BIFPCL has provided 125 wheelchairs to poor aged and physically challenged people.

In every winter season, the power plant stands by the people by distributing blankets among poor and distressed people in Rampal, Mongla and Dakop. So far, blankets have been distributed to 18,000 people.

Regarding community development activities, former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman said the Maitree power plant has contributed to increasing electricity capacity as there is a shortage of electricity in the country.

The economists appreciated the initiative of providing clean drinking water to people.

Shining BD