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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bangladesh to sign nuclear plant deal with Russia

DHAKA (AFP) – Bangladesh will sign a deal with Russia to build two nuclear power plants at a cost of at least three billion dollars
in the electricity-starved Asian nation, Dhaka's atomic energy chief said Sunday.

The two sides would sign the agreement when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits Russia later this year, said Mosharraf Hossain. "We have finalised the deal. The cabinet early this week approved the draft," he said.

Russia will build the 1,000-megawatt plants near Bangladesh's northern town of Rooppur, with the projects expected to be finished by 2017.

Bangladesh has long suffered severe power outages due to demands imposed by its fast-growing economy, which has been growing at around six percent a year since 2004.

But the crisis has worsened this year, as the gap between demand and supply shot up due to years of under-investment in new power plants.
The International Monetary Fund last week said the country's economic growth would slide to five percent a year -- the worst performance in eight years -- largely due to the worsening energy crisis.

In 2007, Bangladesh received approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the industry's global watchdog, to set up a nuclear power plant.

Experts say Bangladesh's gas reserves are also fast depleting, forcing the country to look for alternative sources of energy.

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